The time has come, America, for a tater tax. Now that a groundbreaking study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has demonstrated that potatoes may be a bigger culprit in weight gain than sugary soft drinks or red meat, it seems appropriate to exact a little spud money. You want chips with that? Ante up.
No, we're not being serious. But politicians and health advocates nationwide are very serious about imposing taxes on the culinary villain du jour, soda pop, which is thought to be a key cause of the country's obesity epidemic. Make people pay a few extra pennies for their Pepsis, the theory goes, and they'll drink less, lose weight and save the health system money. It sounds good, but the new research out of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health shows why singling out a particular food may not be such a good idea.
Researchers tracked the eating habits of 120,000 health professionals from across the country over at least 12 years and found that the most fat-inducing food wasn't soft drinks but potatoes — especially French fries. People who downed an extra portion of fries daily were super-sized by 3.4 pounds on average after four years, according to the study. Next on the fat list was potato chips, which added on average 1.7 pounds. Even in non-chip form, an extra helping of potatoes added 1.3 pounds, making them worse for one's waistline than sugar-sweetened soft drinks, which added 1 pound over four years.