My kids love yogurt. They both always have. It is one of the few things that I have always been happy for them to eat as I’ve always assumed it is a healthy food and something to be encouraged. I think of the calcium, vitamins and protein, as well as the probiotics that I read are good for your gut.
More recently, however, I have noticed that lots of yogurts, many of them aimed at kids, are full of sugar. Now I’m not obsessive about nutrition and I’m fairly relaxed about my kids eating treats, as long as they are eaten alongside some balanced meals. However I am irritated that there are a number of food products, including yogurts, that are pretending to be a healthy choice, when really the kids might as well be eating ice cream covered in strawberry sauce.
My youngest daughter will happily polish off two of those small fromage frais yogurts from Petite Filous, plus a Danone Actimel Kids yogurt drink before tucking into her porridge for breakfast and she will frequently ask for another two yogurts for a snack later. She never eats just one, it always has to be two!
I was intending this to be a lighthearted post, but now I am starting to look at labels and get concerned about sugar levels so this is going to get a bit more technical. If you are easily offended by meddling guidelines on nutrition, then stop reading now, but if you have similar concerns to me, then you may wish to keep reading and find out more.
I have just had a look at the packaging and discovered that two mini Petite Filous yogurts contain 9.3g of sugar (recommended serving is two pots). The Yoplait Wildlife fromage frais pots are very similar in terms of calories and sugar. The Actimel Kids yogurt drinks each contain 11.2g of sugar so that’s 20.5g of sugar before my daughter has even started on her porridge, which normally has a little honey on. Eek – alarm bells are starting to ring.
NHS Guidelines on Sugar
NHS guidelines describe ‘free sugars’ as sugars that are added to food or drinks and sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and purees. The guidelines suggest that the average adult should have no more than 30g of free sugar a day. Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugar per day. Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars in a day and there is no guideline limit for kids under 4 as they should avoid sugar sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it. One teaspoon of sugar is 4g.
See full article here – NHS Guidelines on Sugar
The packaging on the yogurt products is not really showing the full picture as you can only see the carbohydrate of which sugars figure, so there is no differentiation of the naturally occurring sugars (lactose milk sugars) and the added sugars. It is suggested that in a 100g of yogurt, the first 5g of carbohydrate of which sugars is typically natural lactose and the rest is added sugars.
So, the Kids yoghurts are not as bad as I first thought, in moderation, but it still seems a lot of sugar. I feel I need to start limiting the amount my daughter has and keep a closer eye on the sugar levels.
Off the Scale Sugar Levels
I used to buy Muller Corners, which are clearly not a healthy choice, but I didn’t realise how bad they were. Initially I bought them as a treat, but increasingly became expected from my eldest and my other half so I looked at the label and was quite shocked. The Muller corner strawberry shortcake flavour contains 17g of added sugar. That is on top of the natural sugar from the milk. This represents almost 60% of an adult’s recommended daily amount of sugar and 90% for a young child. One of these yoghurts contains almost the full daily amount of sugar that my 6 year old should be eating. I find that quite disturbing and these products should not be promoted and sold to children. Maybe they should even feature an over 18’s label or these manufacturers need to look at reducing the sugar levels.
Low Fat Yogurts
I steer clear of low fat yogurts as I have been warned these typically contain loads of sugar and whilst not always the case, I found that to be true of the ones I was buying. Some low fat yogurts have over 20g of added sugar per pot, which equates to three scoops of ice cream. I know which I’d rather choose!
My parents buy the Weight Watchers fromage frais and these are very low in sugar and in fat, but I personally find these very sweet. My girls like them. There are wide debates on the issues of sweeteners – save that debate for another day, but I don’t like something that tastes overly sweet and I don’t see how that can be a healthy option.
Natural Yogurt is a Healthy Food
There seems to be overwhelming acceptance of unsweetened natural yogurt as a healthy option. Many people feel that natural yoghurt can seem a bit sour and difficult to enjoy. Maybe because we’re so used to the sugar loaded versions. My girls and I do enjoy natural Greek yoghurt with raspberries and a little honey. Maybe that is a better alternative to the Kids yoghurt products that I have been buying and I will try to reduce the honey.
Shocking Sugar Statements
There are some very questionable statements about yogurts from the shocking tales of Mums on chat websites to the health claims of certain brands. No, there are not 8 teaspoons of sugar in a 47g pot of Petite Filous. Also, the people who are selling these yogurts to us are probably not the most reliable source for whether a yogurt is healthy or not. As always, it is a question of being informed and having things in moderation, but my view of yogurts has changed and I won’t be so proud to see my girls wolfing down yogurts.
I have tried to get some reliable facts while writing this and checked the labels of products for myself. I have no agenda other than trying to find out more about what my family are eating and drinking. Please do advise if you disagree with anything I’ve written or comment if you have something helpful to add.
A Note On Fruit Smoothies
I recently wrote an article about making fruit smoothies for my daughters and I’m now wondering why smoothies are on the naughty list. Is it possible that fruit smoothies are more harmful than the fruit ingredients that go into it.
I shall quote the NHS website as I wouldn’t trust anyone else on this one:
“The sugars found naturally in fruit and vegetables are less likely to cause tooth decay, because they are contained within the structure. But when fruit and vegetables are juiced or blended into a smoothie, the sugars are released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth.
Limit the amount of fruit juice and smoothies you drink to a maximum of 150ml (a small glass) in total per day, and drink it with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay.”
See full article at the following link – NHS Guidelines on Sugar
I thought I had found a good solution with fruit smoothies, but again I’ll have to watch the amount we have and try to have fruit smoothies alongside meals.