United States Potato Board disputes Harvard study identifying potato as cause of weight gain, says potatoes are one of most nutrient-dense vegetables available, contain 110 calories/serving

DENVER , June 24, 2011 () – The United States Potato Board believes a study released in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine perpetuates unfortunate myths and misconceptions about the potato. Singling out the potato as a cause of weight gain is misleading and contrary to existing research.

"The researchers call into question the long-validated idea that the ultimate determinate of weight gain and weight loss is calories in and calories out," says Dr. Katherine Beals, R.D., FACSM and a nutrition consultant to the United States Potato Board. "But the study says, 'Total energy intake ... [was] not included as [a] covariable.' This means calories weren't included in the analyses. So it's disingenuous for the researchers to say calories aren't important because their study didn't control for them."

The following are scientifically validated facts about potatoes:

Potatoes are vegetables. In fact, they are one of the most naturally nutrient-dense vegetables available. One medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, has more potassium (620g) than a banana, provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 percent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

"Fresh potatoes are frequently victims of guilt by association," says Tim O'Connor, CEO, the United States Potato Board. "If you order a fully-loaded baked potato, the calories you should be worried about are coming from the toppings, not the potato."

You can lose the weight, without losing the potatoes. Research released by the University of California, Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology in October 2010 demonstrates that people can include potatoes in their diet and still lose weight.

"The results of this study confirm what health professionals and nutrition experts have said for years; when it comes to weight loss, it is not about eliminating a certain food or food groups, rather, it is reducing calories that count," said lead researcher Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS. "There is no evidence that potatoes, when prepared in a healthful manner, contribute to weight gain. In fact, we are seeing that they can be part of a weight loss program."

Overall diet quality is better when adults and children consume (non-fried) white potatoes. Research released in April 2011 using data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008 demonstrates that meals that contain potatoes contain more servings of other vegetables, and are significantly higher in potassium, fiber and vitamin C.

To download a comprehensive review of potato nutrition facts and scientific research, visit www.potatogoodness.com and click on "Potato Nutrition Handbook."

About the United States Potato Board

The United States Potato Board was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Recognized as an innovator in the produce marketing industry, the USPB adopted a new campaign in 2008. "Potatoes... Goodness Unearthed®" showcases the appeal of naturally nutrient-rich potatoes, also known as America's favorite vegetable. Based in Denver, Colo., the USPB represents more than 4,000 potato growers and handlers across the country. To unearth more goodness about the USPB and its programs, visit www.potatogoodness.com.

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