High sugar content makes supermarket yogurts an unhealthy choice

Yogurt selections like this one at a Los Angeles 365 by Whole Foods Market store are getting larger but a new U.K. study warns that many contain lots of added sugar

For the study, researchers took a look at more than 900 different yogurt brands being sold in the United Kingdom and found that only 9% of those being sold could be classified as being low in sugar.

Yogurt contains the natural sugar lactose sometimes alongside added sugars, which are combined to give a "total sugar" figure on food labels.

Britain has been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in foods as one tactic to combat rising obesity in the country.

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.

So in 2017 when the United Kingdom government announced the top nine food categories after sodas, juices, and smoothies that contribute to children's sugar intake, and yogurt made the list, it took Dr. J. Bernadette Moore, an associate professor at the University of Leeds' School of Food Science and Nutrition, aback.

They contained an average of 10.8g per 100g - the equivalent of more than two sugar cubes.

High sugar levels in yogurt are particularly problematic due to their reputation as a healthy food.

Natural/Greek yogurt was the only category appreciably different than the rest, with a lower median sugar content of 5 grams, as well as a higher median protein content.

According to Lindsay Moyer, a Senior Nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, consumers may get around 25 percent or more of the WHO's recommended daily sugar limit for adults (from 25 to 50 grams or less than 10 percent of total energy) from just one serving of yogurt. Regardless, these levels of sugar are dramatic.

Yogurt selections like this one at a Los Angeles 365 by Whole Foods Market store are getting larger but a new U.K. study warns that many contain lots of added sugar
High sugar content makes supermarket yogurts an unhealthy choice

If you look at the sugar content of some yogurts in the supermarket, you might mistakenly think you're in the dessert aisle.

Moore's research prompted her to wean her daughter off of sugary, dessert-like yogurts.

"Not all yogurts are as healthy as perhaps consumers perceive them, and reformulation for the reduction of free sugars is warranted", they concluded.

To be classed as low sugar there needs to be no more than 5g per 100g.

But yogurts with high amounts of added sugar can contribute to tooth decay and other health problems.

The only exception was with natural, Greek and "Greek-style" yogurts. People can also make their own yogurt at home, as some cultures have been doing for centuries. Only natural/Greek yogurts met the UK's criteria for "low-sugar".

Yogurt is often regarded as a healthy snack but a new study finds that most yogurts on store shelves are chock-full of sugar.

'Retailers could play a positive role in promoting health by establishing boundaries for lunchbox recommendations and clearly labelling the amount of added sugar'.

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