What characterizes women who eat potatoes? A cross-sectional study among 74,208 women in the Norwegian Women and Cancer cohort

Background: Studies of potato consumption have shown that age, region, socioeconomic status, and household structure are important determinants.

Objective: This study aims to map which factors influence potato consumption among women in the Norwegian Women and Cancer (NOWAC) study.

Design: A cross-sectional study using a postal questionnaire among 74,208 NOWAC participants aged 41–70.

Results: Results showed that 56% of the women ate at least two potatoes a day. A north–south gradient in potato consumption was observed in logistic regression models (OR: 3.41, 95% CI: 3.19–3.64 for the north compared to the capital). Women in households with children had lower odds of high potato consumption than women living only with a partner, and women who lived alone had the lowest odds of all (OR: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.37–0.41). Smokers had higher odds of high potato consumption, while diabetics had lower odds. The odds of high potato consumption were greater among older women, and among those with lower income and education. In a sub-cohort, women who were dieting had lower odds of high potato consumption. Consumption of different foods varied in the low versus the high potato consumption group, with largest effect for fish and pasta/rice. The groups had similar nutrient densities.

Conclusions: In addition to lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, health-related factors like smoking and diabetes were found to influence potato consumption. The high potato consumption group had an especially high consumption of fish and a low consumption of pasta/rice, though the nutrient density in the groups was similar.

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Alex’s Notes: A while back I wrote an article for my good friend and mentor Sean Casey titled “The Humble Spud.” I am personally a huge fan of potatoes for reasons discussed in that article, including resistant starch, a protein quality that rivals eggs (I’m not joking), and a diverse range of micro- and phytonutrients. I greatly encourage you all to take a break for a moment to read it if you are interested.

The study at hand simply sought to gain a better understanding of which factors influence potato consumption among Norwegian women.

The information to draw associations was obtained from the Norwegian Women and Cancer (NOWAC) cohort that consists of over 172,000 women aged 30-70 years who completed a comprehensive eight-page questionnaire. After excluding people with missing data, 74,208 women were included in the present analysis, 56% of which were considered high potato consumers.

  Low potato consumer High potato consumer
Potatoes consumed per day 1 or less 2 or more
Traits of high potato consumers Older, lower socioeconomic class, less educated, more likely to live with others, more likely to smoke, more likely to be overweight but not obese, less likely to be diabetic, greater physical activity, more likely to not be on a diet.
Age and calorie adjusted food choices of high potato consumers More likely to eat more bread, fish, milk, and coffee, and less meat, vegetables, pasta/rice, and alcohol
Age and calorie adjusted nutrient intakes of high potato consumers More likely to obtain more niacin, starch, carbohydrates, and protein, and less folate, vitamin C, fiber, and fat

I don’t really have much else to say, I merely thought this study was interesting. I also thought it was amusing that a study to assess traits of potato consumers was funded. Nonetheless, next time you see an elderly physically active smoker with low socioeconomic status, chances are she is eating at least two potatoes per day.


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