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Certain Dietary Patterns including Potatoes are associated with higher and lower Diet Quality and Physiological Measures in Children and Adults, NHANES 2001-2018

Kristin Fulgoni and Victor L. Fulgoni III


A large percentage of daily vegetable intake is attributed to white potatoes, but limited information is available on how potatoes are incorporated into dietary patterns in the US. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine food patterns that include potatoes and to compare the associated diet quality and association with biomarkers to a food pattern without potatoes. Data from American subjects 2-18 and 19 years and older who participated in the What We Eat in America portion of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycles 2001-2018 were utilized in the current study. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2015. Anthropometric variables included body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and weight. Biomarkers analyzed included glucose, insulin, triglycerides, HDL-, LDL-, and total cholesterol. Multiple food clusters containing potatoes were identified with several having higher and lower diet quality as compared to a food pattern without potatoes. Children and adolescents in one potato cluster had lower BMI, waist circumference, and body weight compared to those in a no potato dietary pattern, whereas adults in 3 potato clusters had higher anthropometric variables than those in a no potato pattern. In adults, some dietary patterns including potatoes were also associated with lower and higher HDL and total cholesterol and higher insulin levels. The percentage of calories from potatoes across patterns was small, ∼9-12%, suggesting the differences observed in diet quality and biomarkers were due to other food categories consumed in the pattern. This study suggests there are ways to incorporate potatoes as part of a healthy eating pattern but depends more on the other foods included in the diet.

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  1. Agarwal, S.; Fulgoni, V.L., III. Intake of Potatoes Is Associated with Higher Diet Quality, and Improved Nutrient Intake and Adequacy among US Adolescents: NHANES 2001–2018 Analysis. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2614. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082614
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