Study Finds Surprisingly Low Potato Consumption In The US

Whether they’re mashed, baked, or French-fried, the fact is that Americans are eating fewer potatoes than expected, a new study presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 Annual Meeting Friday has discovered.

“School-aged children consumed, on average, only three percent or less of calories per day from all types of white potatoes, including baked, boiled, mashed, French fried and other mealtime preparation methods. And children consumed, on average, less than one percent of their daily caloric intake from white potatoes at school,” Dr. Maureen Storey, Chief Executive Officer for the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE), said in a statement.

Those trends continue into adulthood, according to Dr. Storey. The APRE study discovered that adult males between the ages of 19 and 30 only get an average of 92 calories per day (3.3% of their total calories) from while potatoes, based on information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Men over the age of 71 get the same percentage of calories from potatoes, but due to a decrease in overall food consumption, they get just 63 calories from the starch in an average day. Likewise, Dr. Storey reports that adult women over the age of 19 get 52 calories, or less than 3% of their daily intake, from potatoes.

APRE claims that, based on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, potassium and dietary fiber intake in the US were “low enough“¦ to be a public health concern.” Just three percent of all Americans consume adequate amounts of potassium on a daily basis — something that the white potato, which the organization calls “a nutrient-dense vegetable” that is “packed with nutrition,” not to mention “affordable” and “versatile,” could aid.

A medium-sized skin-on baked white potato is an excellent source of potassium (26% DV), vitamin C (28% DV), and vitamin B6 (27% DV) and a good source of dietary fiber (15% DV), magnesium (12% DV), and iron (10% DV) based on a 2,000 calorie diet,” the APRE press release said, with Dr. Storey adding, “Government data show that total fruit and vegetable consumption has been declining in the last decade. We need to find more ways to encourage vegetable consumption, including white potatoes.”

The study will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, the APRE said.

Last September, Dr. Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington presented research at the American Dietetic Association´s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) which demonstrated that potatoes were one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables.

The researchers merged nutrient composition data from the USDA Food and Nutrition Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS 2.0) with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) national food prices database. Like the APRE researchers, they acquired frequency of consumption data from the NHANES study, and then used the Affordable Nutrition Index (ANI) was the metric used to assess nutritional value per dollar for potatoes and for other vegetables.

They discovered that potatoes were the lowest cost source of dietary potassium.

“Potatoes deserve credit for contributing to higher diet quality and increasing vegetable consumption,” Drewnowski said of his team’s findings. “Potatoes also play an important role in providing affordable nutrition to Americans. You CAN afford to meet key dietary guidelines IF you include potatoes in your diet.”

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