The Potato Chip Study

July 12, 2011

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the link between specific foods and weight loss or gain.    This paper squashes the notion that weight gain or loss is just a simple equation of caloric intake versus energy expenditure. What we eat matters too!

The Details:

120,877 U.S. people including 22,557 men, who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline, were followed in this study. They were enrolled in 1 of 3 separate cohort studies with follow-up periods of either 1986 to 2006, 1991 to 2003, or 1986 to 2006.

The Foods:

Researchers looked at the dietary consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, refined grains, potatoes (including boiled or mashed potatoes and French fries), potato chips, whole-fat dairy products, low-fat dairy products, sugar sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, processed meats, unprocessed red meats, fried foods, trans fats, nuts, 100% fruit juice, and diet soda.

The Results:

Individuals who ate the fewest potato chips, potatoes, sugar -sweetened beverages, processed meat, and trans fat gained the least amount of weight over time.

In this study, consuming a serving of potato chips each day led to a 1.69 lb weight gain over a 4-year period.  Eating french fries was even worse, leading to a 3.35 lb weight gain!

Not surprisingly, the highest weight gain occurred in individuals with the lowest overall consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, or yogurt.    The researchers discovered that daily consumption of nuts was associated with slightly more than half a pound of weight loss (-0.57 lb) over a 4-year period, and yogurt a -0.82 lb loss.

The Quick and Dirty Take Home Message:

To look and feel your best, eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt.  Limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates, sugars, refined grains, desserts, and especially fried simple carbohydrates like French fries and potato chips.


1.  The Potato Chip Study: Commentary by Jacob Schor, ND FABNO; Natural Medicine Journal. 7/6/2011

2.  Mozaffarian D. Tao Hao PH. Rimm EB.Willett WC. Hu PH. Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404.

-Dr. Carly Bridge


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