By William C. Haas III, MD, MBA

Integrative Medicine Fellow, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson

Dr. Haas reports no financial relationships relevant to this field of study.

SOURCE: Muraki I, et al. Potato consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from three prospective cohort studies. Diabetes Care 2015; pii: dc150547.


  • Potato consumption, particularly in the form of French fries, is strongly correlated with the development of type 2 diabetes.

Few would question the recommendation to increase daily vegetable intake. Yet, an important question arises — are all vegetables created equal?

A group of researchers recently evaluated the effect of potato consumption on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Potatoes were selected because of high consumption patterns in the United States in addition to their ability to rapidly raise blood sugar levels based on their high glycemic index. Researchers retrospectively evaluated potato consumption from three major prospective cohort studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), NHS-II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). In addition to overall consumption levels, the form of consumption was evaluated, i.e. baked, boiled, mashed, or fried.

Higher total potato consumption was significantly associated with an elevated risk for developing T2DM. Compared to consuming < 1 serving/week, the pooled hazard ratio (HR) was 1.07 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97-1.18) for 2-4 servings/week and 1.33 (95% CI, 1.17-1.52) for 7 servings/week. With regard to the form consumed, French fries were associated with a higher HR compared to baked/boiled/mashed forms; 1.19 (95% CI, 1.13-1.25) and 1.04 (95% CI, 1.01 to -1.08), respectively. Interestingly, the HR for T2DM dropped to 0.88 (95% CI, 0.84-0.91) when replacing three total servings/week of potatoes with the same amount of whole grains.

When providing nutritional counseling to your patients, keep in mind that all vegetables may not be created equal. If the thought of replacing potatoes with kale or collard greens is off-putting, consider swapping out French fries for baked or boiled potatoes at the very least.