New research confirms what the Denver-based U.S. Potato Board has been saying for years — that potatoes can be part of a successful weight loss plan.

A three-year study conducted by the University of California-Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology put potatoes to the test. Spuds have been the recipient of criticism for their designation as a high glycemic index food, which some nutritionists say is counter-productive to weight loss because of effects on blood sugar.

The board’s new research supports the idea that overall calorie count has the biggest effect on weight loss success, not the absence of high glycemic index foods, including potatoes.

“Weight loss results are about total calories, not giving up a certain category of food,” said Meredith Myers, public relations manager for the potato board. “People have been inundated with fad diets and they’ve been inundated with information about carbs and the glycemic index, so it’s good to be able to put this debate to rest.”

The study followed three groups of overweight men and women for 12 weeks. Two study groups reduced their caloric intake by 500 calories, one including low glycemic index foods and the other high glycemic index foods. A third control group followed neither a high or low glycemic index diet, but was urged to use the U.S. dietary guidelines as a model.

All three groups ate five to seven servings of potatoes per week. All three groups lost weight, with no significant difference in weight loss.

The board presented its findings at the Obesity Society’s 28th annual Scientific Meeting Oct. 8-12 in San Diego. Kathy Beals, a nutrition consultant for the board, traveled the country to give radio interviews about the study.

“When we do research studies, she’s the one we go to,” Myers said. “She’s the Ph.D., and she was able to be interviewed about the research.”

Myers said the board also shared the research on social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and its own site, momsdinnerhelper.potatogoodness.com.

The board’s recent nutrition efforts include its Peel Back the Truth campaign, which touts potatoes as containing only 110 calories per serving, more potassium than a banana, 45% of the daily required intake of vitamin C, and fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free.