A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog ‘The Healthiest Yoghurt’ and it got a massive response. To be honest there were so many different yoghurt varieties in the supermarket in order to do the kids options justice I needed to write an entire blog just on this!
If you have not yet read that blog I would highly recommend you do as it will provide some context around this comparison.
What I was really looking for in the yoghurt options for children was the sugar content. Children do not need any added sugar in their products – none! Keep in mind these kids yoghurts are what some babies will first taste, what infants and toddlers be given – all during the most important period of time for developing food preferences and tastes. If a baby is given yoghurt with added sugar there is very little chance that they will then have unsweetened yoghurt later on. If a toddler has had sweetened yoghurt for the best part of three years that is habit, a taste preference which is going to be challenging to turn around – sugar literally changes the zinc levels in your mouth. It is something I am very strong about due to the long term impact on a children health – metabolism and teeth included.
What is difficult to work out on yoghurt labels is what is natural and what is added. Yoghurt is made from milk and milk solids so it will contain lactose the natural sugar in milk. Added sugar you may see listed in the ingredients (as sugar) but it can also include a whole range of other names for sugar (check out my blog 50 names for sugar). According to our World Heath Organisation Guidelines (WHO) added sugar also includes natural sugars which have still been added to the the product for example fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates (these are common in a lot of kids yoghurts). There is also added sugar from fruit itself but this is quite rare to find in youghurt – the afore mentioned ingredients are more common due to being significantly more cost effective.
A Lactose Baseline
To help separate the natural sugar and the added sugar when comparing these products – it is helpful to keep in mind the sugar which is present in completely unsweetened yoghurt. Some of the kids yoghurts had 25% less sugar on the labeling as an example. But that is 25% less than the products with the highest amount of added sugar, it does not mean it still does not have sugar added! At the bottom of the table you can see the sugar amount of both Biofarm and Dewinkle have less than 1 tsp of sugar – this mean anything over this is sure to be added.
When I was doing the comparisons I was also very shocked by the high amounts of sodium in them – given that high sodium intake is strongly associated for heart disease I though it worth putting this in my comparison table below as well:
|Yoghurt||Sugar (g)||Sugar (tsp)||Sodium (mg)|
|Fresh n Fruity Apricot||19||5||52|
|Fresh n Fruity Passionfruit||19||5||52|
|The Collective Suckie (Blueberry)||11.4||3||72|
|Meadow Fresh Goodies||8.1||2||30|
The Best Option?
Given that yoghurt can actually be brought without added sugar at all and that milk does contain natural sugar – I firmly believe that anything else just is not required for children (or adults for that matter). I was really disappointed to see such a huge variety of yoghurts made and labelled as ‘kids yoghurts’ – ALL of which contained added sugar. This makes it extremely confusing for parents to know what is the right choice for their child. The Collective even highlighted that the sugar was from milk and fruit – however it also contained pineapple juice concentrate in the ingredients! According to our WHO guidelines both this concentrate and the fruit is added sugar.
Both of my boys have only ever had unsweetened yoghurt – and still do to this day. It is a more bitter taste, compared to these other yoghurts with added sugar, however if children are never given the option to experience bitter tasting food – they will never eat it. You can check out Sahan’s first time having yoghurt on you-tube here. My boys (2 and 4 years old) will happily consume a bowl of biofarm (my top pick) or dewinkle yoghurt – and even lick the bowl!
Out and About
The appeal of a lot of the kids yoghurts in the above table is that they are easy to take out and about – with two very active monkey’s I know just what a mission this is! So here are some options to help with taking the unsweetened yoghurt out:
Kai Carrier Pouches – These awesome, chemical-free resuable pouches are perfect for taking out yoghurt in them and replaces the ‘suckies’ that are popular today (but have a lot of added sugar). You can also put other liquids in them – above I have made my kids green smoothie (with yoghurt) for the boys to take out. I love these so much I have them available on my website and if you want to read my official review you can do so here.
Leak-Proof Lunch Boxes – There are a number of fully leak-proof lunches boxes available now today like this one above. You can see that it truly is leak proof in my you-tube video here.
Small containers – I noticed in my last supermarket trip these great small pottles of of unsweetened DeWinkle yoghurt now available! You can also buy a number of small sized square containers to do the trick as well.
Introducing yoghurt to babies (and dairy full stop) is a really big topic – I have an entire chapter on this in The Nourished Baby (release date 10th of August, pre-orders opening on the 1st of August!!) but in the meantime if you have any individualised questions I do special consultations that you can book online here and of course be sure to check out my National Starting Solids Tour for when I am visiting your town as part of our massive 10:20 tour!
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale