Did you know that eating one small container of sweetened yogurt is the same as drinking half a can of sugary soda?  I know it is hard to believe, but get this: one 12-ounce can of soda has about 40 grams of sugar (depending on the brand) and one 6-ounce cup of sweetened yogurt can have 20 grams of sugar or more (again, depending upon the brand).

True, some of the sugar in yogurt comes from the yogurt itself, and some comes from the fruit that gets mixed in, but even the most “healthful” brands load their yogurts up with additional sweeteners. (Check out the ingredients of YoBaby Yogurt — just click on one of the flavors. Added sugar comes before the fruit. That means there is more added sugar than fruit. And since the fruit is fruit concentrate – considered sugar by the USDA…) And guess what else?  Those squeezable yogurts your kids love?  They’re the sweetest.  Check this out:

  • COKE (12 oz): 140 calories; 39g sugar;  3.3g sugar per oz
  • YoBaby Simply Plain (4 oz):  90 cal; 6g sugar; 1.5g sugar/oz
  • YoBaby Blueberry (4 oz): 110 cal; 13g sugar; 3.3g sugar/oz
  • YoKids Squeezers  (2 oz):60 cal; 10g sugar;  5.0g sugar/oz
  • YoBaby Banana Drinkable (6 oz): 180 cal;  22g sugar;  3.6g sugar/oz

Now, I’m not suggesting that sweetened yogurt and soda are equals. And I know you are probably willing to compromise on the sugar to get the calcium and protein.  But, when you consider the impact of consuming ultra-sweet yogurts on habits — eating sweet things pretty much guarantees that sweet is the flavor your kids will grow to prefer — it is even harder to put sweetened yogurt on the “healthy” list.  (At least when we give our kids Coke we tell them it’s junk.)

The USDA lists sweetened yogurt as one of the foods that contain the most added sugars in the American diet. It’s listed right under items such as soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies and pies.

After decades of consuming ever-sweeter fare, it is pretty clear now that America’s sweet tooth is much more nurture than nature. Consider the habits you are fostering and use sweetened yogurt as a dessert. Instead, teach your children to like plain yogurt. Add a scoop of jelly, a sprinkle of sprinkles, or even REAL fresh fruit. The payoff will go beyond yogurt. In the long run, it will teach your children to like a wider variety of foods because you’ll be varying the tastes, textures and appearances of what you give them.

Source: www.choosemyplate.gov: What are added sugars?; calculations from nutrition labels.

Update on August 2, 2011

The USDA has changed its listing of foods that contain the most added sugars in the American diet.  Yogurt is no longer listed as a separate item.  See the USDA list.