(This is the system now used for food traffic-light labelling in the UK.) The sugar content of most types of yogurt was well above the recommended threshold, with children's and organic yogurt being among the highest.
A comprehensive survey of ingredients in yogurts highlights high sugar levels in many - particularly organic yogurts and those marketed towards children.
United Kingdom and U.S. dietary guidelines recommend low fat and low sugar dairy products, and the researchers wanted to assess how far yogurt products, particularly those marketed to children, meet these guidelines.
They found that only two per cent of children's yogurts could be classified as low in sugar.
So unless it's using artificial sweeteners, if your yogurt tastes sweet, it's probably because there's sugar in it. But store-bought yogurt may also contain more sugar than anyone suspected.
Yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins like B2 and B12.
The researchers from Surrey and Leeds Universities wrote: "While yoghurt may be less of a concern than soft drinks and fruit juices, the chief sources of free sugars in both children and adults diets, what is worrisome is that yoghurt, as a perceived "healthy food", maybe an unrecognised source of free and added sugars in the diet". "I did not know that the yogurt I was giving my child had [so much] added sugar in it", Moore said in a statement to ABC News. However natural or Greek yoghurt hit the mark, with a median of 5g of sugar per 100g.
A typical yoghurt contained more than half an adults daily recommended sugar allowance.
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Organic varieties were the worst offenders, typically containing 13grams of sugar per 100g. All the yogurts were categorized as natural/Greek, desserts, organic, flavored, fruit, children's, dairy alternatives, etc.
Yet, the halo effect of yogurt is powerful, and for Moore, this is perhaps the most significant implication of the study.
Apart from products in the dessert category, organic yogurts were found to have the highest average sugar content - roughly 13.1 grams per 100 grams.
Since then, Public Health England has urged manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of such products by 20 percent, a goal that will hopefully be met by the year 2020.
This research was undertaken shortly after the launch of the sugar-reduction programme.
"Sugar is often used as a sweetener to counteract the natural sourness from the lactic acid produced by live cultures in yogurt". And experts say those sugars can add up quickly.
Moore noted that the values only reflect the total sugar content, as labels do not separate naturally occurring sugars such as lactose from added sugars, but said the research suggests approximately 5g of sugar per 100g can be thought of as largely being lactose, with levels above that coming from added sugar.