Thursday, November 22, 2007

Potatoheads at the UN

I'm not sure I truly understand the United Nations, but even putting aside my political confusions with it, my head scratching today comes from the fact that the UN has declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato.

Now I don't know how the UN usually works, but year of the potato seems pretty odd to me.

The UN has rightly noticed that in fact there are more people around the globe that are overweight or obese than are undernourished. According to one of its own press releases the UN notes 820 million undernourished people in the world and 1.6 billion overweight or obese adults - a number that increases every year.

So that being said, what's up with the potato year?

It's probable that half or so of the world's potatoes are consumed in fried form which likely doesn't do much for the prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes (declared a global pandemic by the UN on December 21st, 2006), heart disease (recognized by the UN as the world's leading cause of death) and obesity. We also know that in fact there may well be risk inherent specifically to the potato.

To quote from a previous post of my own....

"Is there any risk in eating a lot of potatoes"?

The answer is certainly yes.

Ample evidence exists to suggest that high potato consumption has risk. Potatoes increase blood sugar and insulin levels nearly as fast as pure white table sugar which is potentially why in a 20 year study looking at 84,555 women there was an increased risk of type II diabetes in women with higher potato consumption.

Dr. Walter Willett, the chair of nutrition at Harvard since 1991 and arguably the most important nutritional epidemiologist in history has this to say about potatoes in his exceptional book, Eat, Drink and be Healthy,

"More than two hundred studies have shown that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables decrease their chances of having heart attacks or strokes, of developing a variety of cancers or of suffering from constipation or other digestive problems. The same body of evidence shows that potatoes don't contribute to this benefit. Potatoes should be an occasional food, eaten in modest amounts, not a daily vegetable."
Clearly a bunch of potato heads over there.