In a interesting study of 120,000 healthy, non-overweight women and men taking part in long-term studies of diet regime and health, the members gained an average of 3.3 pounds every four years over a 13-year period. When the experts counted up the foods that contributed most to this weight gain, potatoes topped the list—twice:
- potato chips (for each one increased daily serving, +1.69 pounds more weight gain every four years).
- potatoes (1.28 lb)
- sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb).
- red meat, Unprocessed (0.95 lb)
- processed meats (0.93 lb).
Potato chips were formerly fried in lard and seasoned with salt. Later other fats were used, including vegetable oils and trans fats, the latter identified as having such serious adverse health effects they have been phased out by many brands in the 21st century. Following concerns about healthy eating plan, and the 20th-century formulation of Dietary Reference Intake recommendations in the US and Canada and similar guidelines in various countries, for decades buyers, advocacy groups, and health organizations have focused on the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of junk foods, including potato chips.
A recent long-term study determined that potato chip consumption was the greatest contributor to weight gain, having a stronger effect on weight gain than consumption of potatoes and soft drinks.The starch in potato chips is known to cause tooth decay.
Some potato chip companies have responded to the criticism by investing in research and development to modify existing recipes and create health-conscious products. Kettle Foods was founded in 1978 and currently sells only trans fat-free products, including potato chips. PepsiCo research shows that approximately 80% of salt on chips is not sensed by the tongue before being swallowed. Frito-Lay spent $414 million in 2009 on product development, including development of salt crystals that would reduce the salt content of Lay’s potato chips without adversely affecting flavor.
A big concern about the nutrition of potato chips is that because they are usually made with salt, they contain substantial levels of sodium. This had been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, and potato chips’ taste appeal caused people to overeat and become obese. But, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London in 2004 noted that a small “bag of ready-salted crisps” contains less salt than a serving of “Special K, All-Bran, Golden Grahams, Cheerios, Shreddies and every brand of cornflakes on sale in the UK.”
Other contributing factors to weight gain involved sleeping less than six hours a night or more than eight hours, drinking alcohol, and watching television. The results were just published in The New England Journal of Medicine.