This week I have been all about kids yoghurt. I’ve posted 8 of them now on my sugar gallery. So I thought it was about time that I weigh in a little bit on the topic as well, and provide some background.
Kids yoghurt can be high in sugar
There are many fantastic things about yoghurt. Yoghurt is a great source of protein and calcium and many now contain good quantities of probiotics as well. All these things are fantastic! The problem is that many of the yoghurts available in New Zealand not only contain all these fantastic things, they also contain a significant amount of added sugar. I am not out to vilify any foods, and lets be honest, it is probably better that if kids are having added sugar they are having it in yoghurt than say in a chocolate biscuit, as the yoghurt will be providing other nutritional goodies. BUT if you can get the nutritional goodies with less sugar, well, then you are winning!
What contributes to the sugar content of yoghurt
There are 3 main things that contribute to the sugar content of yoghurt
Lactose is the naturally occurring sugar found in milk and therefore dairy products. The World Healthy Organisation sugar guidelines, I think quite rightly so, states that naturally lactose in dairy products should not be included as part of the ‘added’ sugar intake that we should be limiting
The WHO considers “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices”. This means when we are reading the label we ned to look for more than just cane sugar
The fructose from fresh fruit also should not be included as part of the ‘added’ sugar intake that we should the limiting
The trouble with the nutritional panel on products such as yoghurt
The trouble with looking at the ‘sugars’ component on the nutritional panel, is that it lumps all sugars together. It doesn’t differentiate between the added sugars and those from fresh fruit or from the lactose content.
So to take this into account these are the steps I followed when working out the added sugar content of the kids yoghurts in my sugar gallery.
- I established a ‘Lactose Baseline’. To do this I took the plain unsweetened De Winkel Yoghurt I had in my fridge. The ingredients to this product include no fruits or added sugar. So I used it’s ‘sugars’ content as my ‘Lactose Baseline’.
- Each yoghurt that I then compared, I subtracted the ‘Lactose baseline’ from its sugar content
- I checked the ingredients list to see whether the yoghurt contained fruit. If the fruit was in the form of concentrated fruit juices or fruit pastes then I felt comfortable including this sugar as added sugar.
- None of the yoghurts I looked at had a significant fresh fruit component. most of the fruit was either from concentrated fruit juices, or the quantity was so low ie <2% that I felt comfortable that the fresh fruit was not contributing significantly to the sugar content
- I then divided the remaining sugar content per serving by 4.2 to get the number of teaspoons of sugar.
- In regards to Kids yoghurts I decided to do the comparison per serving. I usually like to compare apples with apples when it comes to foods. ie compare the same serving size. But when it comes to items such as yoghurt pouches it is not often that a kid would not be given a full pouch
So no my sugar gallery, is not an exact science. But all the yoghurts were treated in the same way
How to interpret My Sugar Gallery Graphics
I have created guideline graphics by age based on the WHO guidelines
- All adults and children should reduce their total intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake.
- A further reduction of free sugars to 5% of total energy intake could be even more beneficial
This gave me the following guidelines
Daily Sugar Guidelines
For further information on how these where calculated please check out my article daily sugar guidelines for children
- > 10% is too much RED SPOON
- < 5% is perfect GREEN SPOON
- 5 – 10 % is not as good as <5% ORANGE SPOON
There are 3 ways to reduce the added sugar intake your kids will be getting from flavoured/sweetened yoghurt
- Become a label reader and choose a lower sugar product
- Choose a smaller portion size
- Serve flavoured/sweetened yoghurt less often
If you would like to see how other typed of products stack up in terms of added sugar then please visit my Sugar Gallery