Yoghurt is a great food for your child (assuming they are neither lactose intolerant or suffering from a cow’s milk protein allergy) as it’s an easy way to get some calcium into them (they need around 350mg calcium per day from age 1-5 years). Full fat dairy products are also a good source of calories (for all that running about) and protein (for growing and repair).
At Happy Tums we encourage you to opt for full fat natural or Greek yoghurt as opposed to flavoured yoghurts and that has a lot to do with the amount of sugar/other sweeteners (including fruit derivatives) that are used to make them taste even sweeter than yoghurt naturally is! The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that free sugars should not be added to the food for children under the age of 2 and that children aged 4-6 years should have no more than 5 teaspoons (19g) of free sugar per day.
If we look at the sugar content of plain natural or Greek yoghurt (see the analysis below), you’ll see that there is a fair amount of naturally occurring sugar – around 5g (if we take the average). This comes mostly in the form of lactose. Unfortunately, nutritional labels do not have to indicate how much of the sugars on the list are naturally occurring and how many are added (or free sugars). Therefore, we have to make an assumption from the ingredients list. Or in the case of yoghurt look at the raw product and compare it to the flavoured variety. Remember there are plenty of sweeteners out there (both natural such as agave and synthetic such as aspartame) which won’t have an impact on the actual sugar level but will have the effect of increase the ‘sweet’ taste which can lead to a further desire for sugary foods. Although the use of synthetic sweeteners (and colours) in foods for infants (under 12 months) and young children (aged 1-3 years) is not permitted under EU law, it’s often hard to know which foods are actually aimed at children above this age!
You’ll notice that the difference in sugar content between adult and children’s yoghurts is not that huge. How can that be? Most children’s yoghurts say no added sugar? Well they might not add sugar in the refined sense but they add fruit concentrate, fruit puree, fruit juice, other ‘natural’ sweeteners as well as fructose (another form of sugar which is more harmful to health than refined cane sugar, or sucrose itself). So don’t be deceived by the ‘no added sugar’ branding! You are also more likely to find other additives in adult yoghurts and the portion sizes are going to be larger.
In terms of plain yoghurts here are our star performers:
And the same for flavoured yoghurts aimed at children:
For the full analysis please click here.
Ultimately we’d love to see all your little people enjoying plain natural or Greek yoghurt perhaps even with some chopped fresh fruits. But we at Happy Tums respect that everyone has different ideas about feeding their children so we hope this has given you a little more information to make an informed choice! The figures I’ve given are per 100g as it’s the best way to make a comparison. The individual pot/portion sizes of many of the yoghurts listed are often 100g or there about.