Published: Sat, September 22, 2018
Medical | By

Yogurt: A good source of vitamins, minerals…and sugar

Yogurt: A good source of vitamins, minerals…and sugar

The sugar content of the majority of yogurts sold in the United Kingdom are "well above" recommended sugar levels, according to research conducted by online journal BMJ Open.

Yogurt may be an "unrecognised" source of dietary sugar, particularly for young children, who eat a lot of it, highlight the researchers. The Government is targeting yogurt as part of its childhood obesity plan, and wants companies to remove 20 per cent of sugar by 2020.

Often marketed as a healthy dairy product, yogurt is not necessarily good as it contains free or added sugars and fat - even more than soft drinks and fruit juices, thus increasing the risk of obesity, a study has claimed. Fewer than 10% of all yogurt fell into the low-sugar category and nearly none of the yogurts in the children's category were low-sugar.

In these categories, total average sugars ranged from 10.8g/100 g in children's products to 13.1g/100 g in organic products.

Unsurprisingly, desserts contained the most sugars, but they were followed by children's yogurts.

Under the traffic lights nutritional labelling system, only products with less than 5g of sugar per 100g can be given the "green" low sugar rating. All the yogurts were categorized as natural/Greek, desserts, organic, flavored, fruit, children's, dairy alternatives, etc.

The NHS recommends that children aged four to six have no more than 19g of sugar, or five sugar cubes a day, and it is advised that those aged seven to 10 consume less than 24g daily.

By and large, average fat content was either below or just above the low fat threshold. Dr. J. Bernadette Moore, nutrition scientist and lead author of the study, said that her concerns as a parent were the initial inspiration for the research.

Other studies have pointed out a tendency for people to believe products labeled "organic" are inherently healthier, which Moore fears is playing into consumer choices about yogurt that is actually high in sugar.

Experts have also called for a number of so-called healthy breakfast options to be classed as junk food. The recommended daily allowance of sugar is 30g.

'Retailers could play a positive role in promoting health by establishing boundaries for lunchbox recommendations and clearly labelling the amount of added sugar'. In general, consumers' liking for yogurt is often correlated with sweetness.

Yogurts found in a US supermarket have similar amounts of sugar to those found in United Kingdom stores.

Yet, the halo effect of yogurt is powerful, and for Moore, this is perhaps the most significant implication of the study. Greek and natural yogurts were the least sugary varieties, with an average of five grams per 100 grams.

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