Supermarket yogurts contain more sugar than Coke, study warns

Laverne Higgins
September 21, 2018

It also can contain live lactic-acid producing bacteria that falls under the category of "probiotic", lauded for its potential to improve digestive and other health.

Writing in the journal BMJ Open, Moore and colleagues describe how they looked at nutritional data for 898 products by searching the online grocery websites of five major United Kingdom supermarkets. In these categories, average sugars ranged from 10.8g per 100g in children's products to 13.1g per 100g in organic products.

A report published in May showed sugar content in yoghurts had been reduced by 6% in the first year, making it the only food category to exceed the 5% target. This compares with an average of 5g /100 g for natural/Greek yogurts.

Children's yoghurts are packed with sugar, experts have found, warning that manufacturers and retailers need to do more to tackle the problem.

Scientists from the Universities of Leeds and Surrey have analysed the product information for 921 yogurts available in major United Kingdom supermarkets.

As some states rightfully start to look at reducing sugar consumption from soft drinks, scientists underline another potential source of unneeded sugar: yogurt. 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. Only two of 101 children's yogurt and fromage frais products surveyed could be classified as low in sugar, with the majority having an average of 10.8 grams per 100 grams.

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Dr Moore explained that while yogurts contained their own naturally-occurring sugar, called lactose or milk sugar, current United Kingdom labelling laws do not require the declaration of added sugars on nutrition labels: "total sugar" on the package indicates the weight of lactose as well as any added sugars. Regardless, these levels of sugar are dramatic.

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.

Lead author Dr Bernadette Moore, from the University of Leeds, said: "While there is good evidence that yoghurt can be beneficial to health, products on the market vary widely in nutrient content". YoCrunch low-fat yogurt sported 12 grams of sugar in a 113 gram serving, but that number spikes up to 19 grams of sugar if you add the accompanying "mix-ins", like Oreo cookies or M&M sweets. Chobani filed the lawsuit Monday, April 24, 2017.

"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. Moore advocates for more transparent food labeling, and changes from the yogurt industry itself. "I think people, including parents, will be surprised to know just how much sugar there is in yoghurt". When introducing foods to children, why not choose natural yogurt instead? But most of the sugar in high-sugar yogurts is free sugar, even for many fruit yogurts.

At the same time, organic yogurt has 13 grams of sugar, and the least sweet was Greek, in which 100 g, only 5 g of sugar.

Amisha Ahuja is an internal medicine resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and a writer with the ABC News Medical Unit.

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