Almost all yogurts sold by supermarkets contain “well above” a healthy amount of sugar, a damning study reveals.
Nine out of ten fail to qualify for a green traffic light nutrition label because they are crammed with more than 5g of sugar per 100g.
Researchers from the University of Leeds examined 921 of the most popular yogurts and warn they are an “unrecognized source” of sugar.
They claim they are contributing to the obesity epidemic and urged shoppers to study the nutrition labels before buying them.
Those marketed as “desserts” are the worst offenders, with an average of 16.4g of sugar per 100g – more than four teaspoons.
Organic yogurts fare second worst, with 13.1g of sugar per 100g, and natural or Greek yogurts are best with 5g of sugar per 100g.
Greek and natural yogurts also contained higher levels of protein and the sugar is more likely to be naturally occurring than added.
Health chiefs say kids aged four to six should have no more than 19g of sugar a day – meaning just one pot could take them over the limit.
Only two of the 101 children’s yogurts and fromage frais surveyed could be classified as low sugar, with most having 10.8g per 100g.
Sugar is often used as a sweetener to counteract the sourness of the lactic acid, which is produced by live cultures in yogurts.
These live cultures are what make a yogurt “good for your gut” and tend to be found in higher amounts in organic yogurts.
Study leader Dr. Bernadette Moore said: “While there is good evidence that yogurt can be beneficial to health, products on the market vary widely in nutrient content.
“Items labeled organic are often thought of as the ‘healthiest’ option but they may be an unrecognized source of added sugars in many people’s diet.”
Dr. Barbara Fielding, who worked on the study at the University of Surrey, said: “Diets high in added sugars are now unequivocally linked to obesity and dental problems.
“In the U.K., on average, children eat more yogurt than adults, with children under three years old eating the most.”
Public Health England has challenged food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in many products, such as yogurts, by a fifth by 2020.
Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “The food industry has a key role to play in reducing the amount of sugar we buy and consume.
“We have seen positive steps. Yogurt and fromage frais was the only category to exceed the first year sugar reduction ambition of 5%.
“We hope to see further progress when we publish our next report in 2019.”