Yogurts deceptively high in sugar

Henrietta Strickland
September 21, 2018

"However, we found that in numerous yoghurt products marketed towards children, a single serving could contain close to half of a child's recommended daily maximum sugar intake".

Of 921 yoghurts available in United Kingdom supermarkets in October and November 2016, organic ones had an average sugar content of about 13.1g per 100g, the highest content excluding those sold specifically as desserts.

In 2016, Public Health England (PHE) urged the food industry to achieve 20% cuts in sugar levels in everyday foods by 2020, with the goal of 5% within the first year.

The researchers note that yoghurt is an important source of nutrients including calcium, protein and vitamin B12, and is linked to digestive benefits.

Researchers warn that customers may think they're making a healthy choice when choosing those organic yogurts, when in fact they're making an unhealthy decision.

"While yogurt may be less of a concern than soft drinks and fruit juices, the chief sources of free sugars in both children and adults" diets, what is worrisome is that yogurt, as a perceived "healthy food' may be an unrecognised source of free/added sugars in the diet", said J. Bernadette Moore from the varsity.

"Parents need to realize that all yogurt is not exactly the same, and it's the natural yogurts which are healthier", she added.

"Our study highlights the challenges and mixed messages that come from the marketing and packaging of yogurt products".

Natural sugar is the sugar naturally present in a food - in yoghurt (and other dairy products) it's mostly a type of sugar called lactose. Only 2% of children's products would have earned the green label indicating low sugar.

The threshold for a low sugar product is 5g of total sugars per 100g.

The team also note that many products marketed as being good for cholesterol were found to be high in sugar while the "health halo" of organic yoghurts might have slipped, with the category found to have the second highest median sugar content after "dairy desserts" with about 13g of sugar per 100g.

A study by researchers from Leeds and Surrey universities said only natural, plain and Greek-style yoghurts had a low sugar content, with an average of 5g per 100g, largely naturally occurring.

The yogurt category was the only one to surpass the 5% sugar-reduction target in the first year, and Tedstone expressed hope there would be further reductions posted in next year's report.

Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance stressed that overconsumption of sugar is one of the factors driving the high rates of obesity in the United Kingdom, but acknowledged that sugar levels in yoghurts are falling.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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