Research: Only Greek yogurt passes the 'low sugar' test

Yoghurt

Image Organic yoghurts typically had 13.1g of sugar per 100g

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.

"While the organic label refers to production, the well documented health-halo effect means that consumers most often underestimate the caloric content and perceive the nutritional contents of organic products, including yoghurts, more favourably", they said.

Nutritional advice from both the Government and the NHS does not recommend cutting out the natural sugars found in milk or yogurts, as these do not count as free sugars.

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.

They looked at those marketed to children in particular. Unsurprisingly, desserts contained the most total sugar, at an average 16.4 g/100 g, an amount that represents more than 45 percent of energy intake.

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It is important to remember that yogurts are nutritionally valuable, providing protein, calcium, iodine as well as B vitamins and many other minerals.

Despite yogurt being among the products to successfully reduce sugar levels, experts say there is still a big problem in yogurts targeted to kids. For a small 85g pot that equates to 9g of sugar - more than two teaspoons and almost half the NHS recommended daily allowance of 19g for four- to six-year-olds.

In these categories, total average sugars ranged from 10.8g/100g in children's products to 13.1g/100g in organic products. Children's yogurts did not lag too far behind as they were estimated to contain 10.8g per 100g.

Although yoghurt has always been considered a healthy food, experts warn that numerous products sold in supermarkets could contribute to child obesity, tooth decay and other health problems due to their high sugar content.

Organic yoghurts typically had 13.1g of sugar per 100g, while natural or Greek varieties had the lowest at around 5g.

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This research was undertaken shortly after the launch of the sugar-reduction programme.

According to co-author Annabelle Horti from the varsity: "Changing the public desire for "sweeter" yogurts may be a real challenge when it comes to reducing its sugar content".

The average sugar content of products in most categories was well above the low sugar threshold. But most of the sugar in high-sugar yogurts is free sugar, even for many fruit yogurts.

The team sorted the products into eight groups including desserts, organic yoghurt, natural or Greek yoghurt, dairy alternatives and yoghurts aimed at children, including fromage frais.

Yoghurts do contain naturally occurring sugar, called lactose, but United Kingdom labeling laws do not require manufacturers to declare added sugars, the authors said.

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