Potato Chips, 100,000 Nurses & NEJM Obesity Study = Cure For My Candy Binges?

nejm 2011 potato study title

In 2011, the NEJM was back at it with another huge study to find answers about obesity.  This study was not geared towards curing obesity because of the powerful results they discovered in my favorite study of all time back in 2009 which concluded:  SPOILER ALERT!!

21yo yo katan gastric

Instead the 2011 study was focused on obesity PREVENTION, and the study covered more than 100,000  people over a period of  20 YEARS – A TRULY LONG-TERM STUDY.  I got my popcorn ready and prepared to be “infotained”  


This study’s results consisted of lifestyle choices for 100,000 health professionals, mostly nurses.  But not all nurses – they excluded a “handful”.  Here’s a partial list of exclusions:

We excluded participants with obesity, diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, or liver disease…those who were newly pregnant during follow-up; and those who were over 65 years of age, given possible confounding due to age-related loss of lean muscle mass. 

While it makes sense to exclude those who already obese, seriously ill  or old to evaluate the lifestyles of those who were not obese, healthy and young, it did raise two huge questions:

  1. Can the feedback from one group of professionals, even a really large group,  speak for the entire population of people with diverse educational and financial backgrounds?
  2. Can the lifestyles of people who are not obese really offer any meaningful guidance to those who are?

But, any well researched long-term study is a rarity and beggars can’t be choosers so I kept reading.


Here are some results from this massive study:

The average weight gain across the cohorts was 3.35 lbs….during each 4-year period; this change corresponds to a weight gain of 16.8 lb over a period of 20 years.

According to this study even the skinny folks gain weight over time—though 17 pounds over 20 years is laughable.  I’d gain 17 pounds in 20 weeks without EET (seriously) !  But there is a strong takeaway here:.  ALL dieters of any weight should strive to keep learning and improving or things WILL get worse.  Weight loss and fitness is REALLY challenging and should never be underestimated or taken for granted.   

Next, here’s a summary of the weight gain or loss attributable to various foods – note the tendency for non-obese healthy nurses to gain far more weight thanks to potatoes and related products than any form of sugar.  Does this mean that even though potatoes and related products are generally gluten-free and often all natural that they are addictive?  Should we be looking at bans and additional taxes here? (click to enlarge)

nejm nurses study results



What did the media say we learn from this study?  Here’s some headlines from major media outlets –

Potato chips piling on the pounds, study finds – CBS News

Chips: The Leading Cause of Obesity in America :..

Gaining weight? Beware potatoes—baked, fried, or in chips Harvard Health

Is this really the message?  Researchers studied a very specific population of non-obese health professionals, but the media message was presented as the answer for everyone.  And what was that message?  Exactly what EVERY study of obese people proves is the WORST thing you can do:  force food restrictions on the foods you enjoy most.  That results in weight gain over time, per every study on obese people, EVER.


What does all this have to do with my personal binging and how I dealt with it?  A few subtle messages that are all incredibly important

  1. Long-Term Weight Loss and Fitness is nearly impossible, even for skinny people!
  2. Don’t take weight loss and fitness for granted, ever – keep learning and improving.
  3. POTATO CHIPS ARE AWESOME AS ARE ALL FOODS YOU LOVE!  The media will print what grabs the most attention, without concern for critical details of research and studies. Understand the value of doing your homework before making any diet and exercise changes.

To reinforce the lessons to be learned here, look what just a few minutes of personal research revealed– a good sized 2014 study:


potato chips not obesity study

Prevalence rates of obesity or overweight did not vary significantly according to potato chips consumption (p-value = 0.19), ranging from 24% (164) in those who are snacking potato chips at least once per day up to 25% (361) in those who are snacking potato chips never or rarely. Non significance of the association persisted (p-value 0.598) even after adjustment for major confounders (hours/week TV, physical activity, BMI father, BMI mother, number brothers or sisters, socio-economic status, fruit portions/day, vegetables portions/day). Conclusions. The consumption of particular foods such as high energy dense foods is not responsible for prevalence rates of overweight and obesity if associated to a healthy lifestyle.


Will this blog post inspire you to study my last 6 blog posts, which provide you science backed answers I’ve used to successfully manage my weight including coping with periodic urges to binge for years?   Or will continue to look for your answers in the media headlines or on cool sites like Buzzfeed which all too often recommend radical headline grabbing changes like basing your diet decisions on 100,000 skinny nurses telling you to give up potato chips forever.  If you’re a skinny nurse, this might be a good plan.  For the rest of us, there are better answers out there, and in my opinion, it’s part of the true cure for obesity for you to learn as many as possible.


You can learn EET much more quickly by joining the discussion at  The EET Community today!   We’ve covered many helpful EET topics (go HERE to check out the discussions already in progress!):

Please read the Community Guidelines on the post in the community to help our discussion be really helpful to all!



STEP 2     Learn How To Define And Identify Your Binges

STEP 3  “Proven” strategies I will try to avoid 

STEP 4   3  EET Science Backed Strategies that have worked before

STEP 5     Should dieters be expected to NEVER binge? 

FINALLY:  What do potato chips have to do with my binging?

Learn more about other keys to The EET Timing Diet, for FREE!

  Go to www.eetfit.com to download our FREE EET Timing Diet Personal Training Guide and learn how to love your diet– no registration, no obligation of any kind, we just want everyone to know how Timing is different!

EET personal training guide cover

EET also strongly recommends you read our previous two blog posts before diving in to The Guide, to get the best possible introduction to The EET Timing Diet:

A Wildly Successful 7 Year Weight Loss and Fitness Plan – Can YOU Do EET Timing?

Proof You’re ONE THOUGHT Away From Reaching Your Weight Loss And Fitness Goals

  Questions?  Contact us at  eetfit@gmail.com     Click here if you want to sign up for EET.

(Check out several Guidelines along with the list of EET’s Guidelines for FREE in the Look Inside Section of EET’s Book HERE):


disclaimer oct 2012


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s