People have known since forever that French fries aren’t good for you, but a new study has linked eating them with a particularly un-fun consequence: an increased risk of death. Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors say they studied potato consumption in about 4,400 45- to 79-year-olds for eight years. By the time their study wrapped up, 236 of them had died. When researchers checked participants’ diets, they discovered that people who ate any style of fried potatoes at least twice a week — that means steak fries, shoestring fries, curly fries, waffle fries, crinkle-cut fries, tater tots, pommes frites, home fries, hash browns, potato chips, latkes, and certainly cheese-covered disco fries — more than doubled their risk of dying early. Eating normal potatoes wasn’t tied to any greater likelihood of demise, they note.
The scientists’ original goal with this cohort was actually to study osteoarthritis. But then they realized a more critical knowledge gap existed: “Few studies have assessed the association between potato consumption and mortality,” they write in the paper. So that’s what they did instead, and now they get to live forever with that decision.
It’s not as if understanding why takes rocket science — French fries and their oil-drenched variants typically involve lots of trans fat and sodium. Plain white potatoes are healthier, the paper explains, because they’re full of fiber and other vitamins that “could [counterbalance] the detrimental effects of their high glycemic index.” The authors also conclude by reminding everyone that their findings suggest only an association. To the dying part, at least. The part about fries being delicious is proven fact.