'Healthy' organic yoghurts are packed full of sugar

39;Organic' yoghurts were some of the most unhealthy in terms of sugar

Small pots of children's yogurt typically contain half a child's daily allowance of sugar, a study has found.

"However, we found that in numerous yoghurt products marketed towards children, a single serving could contain close to half of a child's recommended daily maximum sugar intake".

Researchers warned that the "health halo" effect meant consumers often overestimated the health properties of organic products.

They found fewer than one in 10 of all products (9%) and only 2% of children's yoghurts were classed as low in sugar, and contained the level required to carry a green "traffic light" nutritional label which is considered a healthy choice.

"Items labelled organic are often thought of as the "healthiest" option, but they may be an unrecognised source of added sugars in many people's diet". "It can be a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12", she said.

"However, we found that in numerous yoghurt products marketed towards children, a single serving could contain close to half of a child's recommended daily maximum sugar intake".

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.

The second most sugary product was organic yoghurts with a typical 13.1g per 100g.

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Natural sugar is the sugar naturally present in a food - in yoghurt (and other dairy products) it's mostly a type of sugar called lactose.

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

Less than 10 percent of the yoghurt sold in major British supermarkets is low in sugar, meaning it contains less than 5g sugar per 100g.

Picking the organic yoghurt in the fancy packaging over the supermarket basics variety may feel good but it is unlikely to help your waistline.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said that the food industry is a critical player in reducing how much sugar the public consumes.

"Yogurt and fromage frais was the only category to exceed the first year sugar reduction ambition of 5 per cent - we hope to see further progress when we publish our next report in 2019".

Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance stressed that overconsumption of sugar is one of the factors driving the high rates of obesity in the United Kingdom, but acknowledged that sugar levels in yoghurts are falling.

The study comes amid a government-drive to encourage manufacturers to reduce sugar content in their products - including yoghurts - by 20% by 2020.

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