Yogurt may not be the health food it seems, according to a new study. Researchers in the U.K. tested more than 900 different brands of yogurt and found that upwards of 90 percent had “deceptively high” levels of sugar, reports Fortune.
Organic yogurts had some of the highest levels of sugar of the samples tested by the researchers, with an average of 13.1 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product.
"While the organic label refers to production, the well documented 'health-halo effect' means that consumers most often underestimate the caloric content and perceive the nutritional contents of organic products, including yogurts, more favourably," write the researchers.
In the U.K., products can only be labeled as "low-sugar" if they contain no more than five grams of total sugars per 100 grams. In the U.S., "low-sugar" is not a defined term for labeling, but the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar per day and women no more than 25 grams.
Researchers grouped the tested yogurts into eight categories: children’s, dairy alternatives, desserts, drinks, flavored, fruit, natural/Greek, and organic. The researchers found that overall, only nine percent of the yogurts tested could be classified as being low in sugar, almost none of which were in the children’s category, a detail the researchers called “concerning,” giving rising obesity rates among children.
"While yogurt 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 yogurt, as a perceived 'healthy food,' may be an unrecognised source of free/added sugars in the diet," write the researchers.
The natural/Greek yogurt category was the only category where the average sugar content was not “well above” the low-sugar threshold, reports Science Daily.
A Spanish study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2015 found no significant benefits to the regular consumption of yogurt, despite containing probiotics.