Health

Spud Pusher Loses 21 Pounds on All-Potato Diet

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

The head of the Washington State Potato Commission has ended a two month, all-potato diet 21 pounds lighter. But losing weight was not the point of the highly publicized diet.

Chris Voigt did all of this to draw attention to federal proposals to bar or limit potatoes in some programs.

Potatoes are the only vegetable not allowed for purchase under the federal Women, Infants and Children program, known as WIC. The Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has called for the USDA-backed school lunch program to limit use of potatoes. The USDA is expected to release its school lunch menu proposals by the end of the year.

Experts say potatoes are not particularly nutritious, but Voigt disagrees and hopes to change the institute's mind. He said potatoes have more potassium than bananas, and that one serving provides roughly 45 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin C. They also offer some fiber and other minerals and vitamins.

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Voigt could be right. In addition to the weight loss, from 197 pounds to 176 pounds, his cholesterol level fell 67 points.

"I've been struggling being borderline high cholesterol for four or five years," he said. "We were thinking maybe a 20-point drop, but this is 60-some points."

While the diet seems like it was a success, Voight won't consider it successful unless he can change the government's stance on his favorite food.

"If we are successful in convincing USDA to put potatoes in the programs, then I'd call it a 100 percent success," Voigt said. "But it's been great that the publicity and the general awareness the public has now and how it's drawn some attention to the nutritional value of potatoes. I just consider that gravy."