Objectives To comprehensively survey the sugar and nutrient contents of yogurt products available in UK supermarkets, in particular those marketed to children.
Design A cross-sectional survey of yogurt products available in the UK’s supermarkets in November 2016.
Methods Data were collected from five major online UK supermarkets and a process flow strategy was used to place yogurts into eight categories: children’s, dairy alternatives, dessert, drinks, fruit, flavoured, natural/Greek style and organic. A comprehensive database of product information for 921 unique products was created and analysed.
Results The total sugar, fat, protein, calcium and energy contents were highly variable across categories, and the ranges were extremely broad. Although lower than the dessert category, the medians (range) of the total sugar content of children’s (10.8 g/100 g (4.8–14.5)), fruit (11.9 g/100 g (4.6–21.3)), flavoured (12.0 g/100 g (0.1–18.8)) and organic (13.1 g/100 g (3.8–16.9)) yogurt products were all well above 10 g/100 g, and represented >45% of total energy. Only two out of 101 children’s yogurt and fromage frais products surveyed qualified as low sugar (≤5 g/100 g). Natural/Greek yogurts had dramatically lower sugar contents (5.0 g/100 g (1.6, 9.5), largely lactose) than all other categories. While low-fat (<3 g/100 g) products had less sugar and energy than higher fat yogurts, nonetheless 55% (285 of 518 low-fat yogurts) contained between 10 and 20 g sugar/100 g. Within the children’s category, fromage frais had higher protein (5.3 g/100 g (3.3, 8.6) vs 3.2 (2.8, 7.1); p<0.0001) and calcium contents (150 mg/100 g (90, 240) vs 130.5 mg/100 g (114, 258); p=0.0015) than yogurts.
Conclusions While there is good evidence that yogurt can be beneficial to health, products on the market vary widely in total sugars. Fewer than 9%, and only 2% of the children’s, products surveyed were low enough in sugar to earn ‘green’ in UK front of the pack labelling. Reformulation for the reduction of free sugars in yogurts is warranted.
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Contributors JBM designed the study, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. AH carried out the study, analysed the data and contributed to a preliminary draft. BAF helped design and interpret the study and revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content.
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.
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