Recent analysis reveals that many yogurt products found in supermarkets contain a dangerous amount of sugar
12/09/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

Yogurt, a popular dairy product made via the bacterial fermentation of milk, is a favorite among health-conscious consumers because it offers a lot of benefits. However, not all kinds of yogurt are good for you. According to a U.K. study, certain kinds of yogurt tend to be an "unrecognized" source of dietary sugar, especially for young children who consume a lot of this dairy product.

Earlier studies have confirmed that yogurt and other fermented dairy products are good for your digestion and overall well-being. Yogurt also contains "good" bacteria, and it is rich in calcium, iodine, protein, and vitamin B.

Sugary yogurt is bad for your health

In the U.K., children aged three years old and below consume yogurt more than any other age group.

Both U.K. and U.S. dietary guidelines recommend low-fat and low-sugar dairy products. For the study, the authors set out to determine how far yogurt products, especially those that are marketed to children, meet these guidelines.

The researchers examined the nutrient content of at least 900 yogurts and yogurt products. The products were all sold at five major online supermarket chains from October to November 2016 in the U.K. Between them, the supermarket chains accounted for 75 percent of the market share.

All of the products were separated into eight categories:

  • Children's (Including fromage frais, "a soft, unaged, creamy fresh cheese made out of whole or skimmed milk and cream. A French specialty, fromage frais is traditionally made with unpasteurized cream. This kind of cheese contains live cultures when sold.)
  • Brighteon.TV

  • Dairy alternatives (e.g., soy)
  • Desserts
  • Drinks
  • Flavored
  • Fruit
  • Natural/Greek
  • Organic

Low-fat and low-sugar products were classified according to European Union regulations which are currently used for the front of pack food traffic light labeling system used in the U.K.: 3 grams (g) of fat per 100 g or less or 1.5 g or less for drinks; and a maximum of 5 g of total sugars/100 g.

The analysis revealed that there was a huge discrepancy in the sugar content both within and across the categories. With the exception of natural/Greek yogurts, the average sugar content of products in all the categories was "well above the low sugar threshold."

Fewer than one in 10 products qualified as low sugar. None of these products belonged to the children's category. The researchers note that this is alarming, especially because of the rise in childhood obesity and the prevalence of tooth decay in young children.

The desserts contained the most total sugar, with an average of 16.4 g/100 g. This accounts for over 45 percent of energy intake.

Desserts were followed by the products in the children's, flavored, fruit, and organic categories. For the four categories, total average sugars ranged from 10.8 g/100 g in the children's products to 13.1 g/100 g in the organic products. This is compared to the natural/Greek yogurts, which had an average of 5g /100 g.

In general, the products' average fat content was either below or just above the low-fat threshold. Desserts, which had the highest fat content, also had the broadest range, with an average of 5.2 g/100 g.

The researchers noted that since this is an observational study that only covered products from five supermarket chains, they are unable to establish cause. They added that even though yogurt is less of a concern compared to soft drinks and fruit juices, two major sources of free sugars in both children and adults' diets, they warned that yogurt is often perceived as "healthy food."

Because of this kind of thinking, not all consumers are aware that yogurts are an "[unrecognized] source of free/added sugars."

The researchers advised that organic yogurts are often considered "healthy food." They explained that while the "organic" label pertains to production, because of the "health-halo effect" buyers tend to "underestimate the caloric content and perceive the nutritional contents of organic products," such as yogurts, more favorably. (Related: Beware of Health Foods.)

The researchers concluded that consumers should be made aware that not all kinds of yogurt are as healthy as initially perceived. They also advised that yogurts should be reformulated to reduce their free sugar levels.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.

To learn more about the sugar content of yogurts and other food products, visit

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