Red Light Over Sugar in Many Yogurts

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Researchers studied the nutrient content of more than 900 yogurt products from five online supermarkets in the United Kingdom, including children's yogurts, yogurt drinks, fruit-flavored yogurts, Greek and organic.

For a food product to be classed as low sugar it can not contain more than 5g per 100g.

In our survey of yogurts sold in the United Kingdom, we found that less than 10% were low sugar - nearly none of which were children's yogurts.

High sugar levels in yogurt are particularly problematic due to their reputation as a healthy food. But do these benefits create a bit of a blind spot for consumers when it comes to the sugar content of yogurt?

'It can be a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12.

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"While yogurt may be less of a concern than soft drinks and fruit juices - the chief sources of free sugars in both children's and adults' diets - what is worrying is that yogurt, often perceived as a healthy food, may be an unrecognized source of sugar in the diet", wrote Bernadette Moore and Barbara Fielding, study authors from the University of Leeds and the University of Surrey respectively. The recommended daily allowance of sugar is 30g.

The second most sugary product was organic yoghurts with a typical 13.1g per 100g. Yogurt is particularly recommended for babies and children and, in fact, those up to the age of three years in the United Kingdom eat more yogurt than any other age group.

Sugar accounted for the majority of total calories in all but natural or Greek yogurts. This is "concerning", given the rise in childhood obesity and the prevalence of tooth decay among young children, say the researchers.

Yet, the halo effect of yogurt is powerful, and for Moore, this is perhaps the most significant implication of the study.

Low fat and low sugar were classified according to European Union regulations: 3g or less of fat per 100g and 1.5g or less for drinks, and a maximum of 5g of total sugars per 100g.

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Organic yoghurts typically had 13.1g of sugar per 100g, while natural or Greek varieties had the lowest at around 5g. The team completed the research into the yogurt sugar levels by gathering nutritional data from supermarket websites. This may be why these products had higher amounts of added sugar to offset the sourness.

Even when opting for natural or homemade yogurts, it's important not to load it with toppings that can sabotage efforts to decrease your sugar intake.

While natural/Greek yogurts contained the least amount of sugars, their median total sugar content (5.0g/100g, largely lactose) was still markedly higher than the allowance of naturally occurring sugars agreed by Public Health England of 3.8g/100g.

All the products were grouped into eight categories: children's, which included fromage frais; dairy alternatives, such as soy; desserts; drinks; flavoured; fruit; natural/Greek; and organic.

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