Potato-eating pregnant women face increased diabetes risk

Women who ate more than five servings of potatoes a week in pregnancy increased risk of Type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent. Picture: Iakov Filimonov

Women who ate more than five servings of potatoes a week in pregnancy increased risk of Type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent. Picture: Iakov Filimonov

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Women who regular eat potatoes are at increased risk of suffering diabetes in pregnancy, research suggests.

Those who consumet two to four servings of potato a week may be around 27 per cent more likely to suffer diabetes in pregnancy, even when taking into account their weight, a study has found.

Experts analysed total potato consumption, including baked, boiled, mashed and fried.

One serving included one baked or boiled potato, 237ml of mashed potatoes or 113g of chips.

Even one serving a week appeared to increase the risk by 20 per cent compared with women eating less than one serving a week, once body mass index (BMI) was taken into account.

Those eating more than five servings a week had a 50 per cent increased risk.

When women substituted two servings a week with other vegetables, pulses such as beans, lentils and peas, and whole grain foods, they had a 9 per cent to 12 per cent lower risk.

In the ten-year study of more than 21,000 pregnancies, published in the British Medical Journal, 854 were affected by gestational ­diabetes.

Experts said higher potato consumption before pregnancy “was significantly associated with an increased risk” of the condition but found no specific link for eating chips alone.

The experts said: “Though potatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre and some phytochemicals, unlike other vegetables they can have detrimental effects on glucose metabolism because they contain large amounts of rapidly absorbable starch.”

They said high potato consumption had already been associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The women in the study were asked about potato consumption in the previous year as part of a questionnaire, looking at how often they ate certain foods.

The experts, including from Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: “Higher levels of potato consumption before pregnancy are associated with greater risk [of gestational diabetes], and substitution of potatoes with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods might lower the risk.”

The authors stressed the study did not prove that potatoes caused diabetes.

Gestational diabetes usually develops in the third trimester and usually disappears after the baby is born.

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