“Nothing but good,” may be Chobani’s theme, but if you’re not careful, this “good” food can teach your kids bad habits.

There’s no denying the popularity of Greek yogurt.  According to a recent New York Times article, Greek yogurt now accounts for 35% of total American yogurt sales (up from 4% in 2008).

  • Chobani is the big kahuna in the Greek yogurt world. It’s got 47.3% of the market.
  • The budget for advertising Chobani Champions—their “kid-targeted” line—is $12 million.

Chobani yogurt is good.  That’s why it’s particularly sad that most Chobani yogurts have as much—if not more— sugar than Coke.

I’ve written about Yogurt vs Coke before, but I wasn’t writing about Greek Yogurt, the new darling of the healthy eating world.

I know the arguments:

  • Some of the sugar in yogurt comes from the yogurt itself. Chobani Plain Yogurt=1.2 grams of sugar per ounce.
  • Greek yogurt is filled with protein—more than 2 grams per ounce.

This, of course, begs the question: Is the tradeoff (sugar for protein) worth it?  I don’t think so.

It’s never a good idea to accept “bad” nutrients in your effort to get some “good” nutrients into your kids.

It’s the “bad” nutrients that shape kids’ taste buds.  (They can’t taste the protein.)  Here are some unexpected lessons children learn from Chobani Champions:

  • Kids have different food than adults. (Why else would Chobani spend so much on advertising?) Read “Kid-Friendly” is a Killer.
  • Kids have sweeter food than adults.
  • When selecting foods, it’s OK to pick and choose which nutrition facts matter, especially if it makes you feel better about your selection.  (I call this Selective Attention and the Feel Better Approach.)

The only good thing I can say about Chobani Champions is that at least it comes in a smaller serving size than the “adult” stuff.  Chobani Champions are 3.5 ounces and the other yogurts are 6 ounces.  Keep this in mind when you compare labels.

If you gave your kids plain yogurt instead of Vanilla Chocolate Chunk yogurt you could add 10 grams of sugar and come out even.

Actually, you would come out ahead. You’d be teaching your kids what yogurt really tastes like, and you could use the yogurt as a vehicle for introducing new foods. Don’t know what I mean? Read The Magic of Yogurt.

What can you “buy” for 10 grams of sugar?

Be careful of what you do in the name of nutrition.

As I said in my original Yogurt vs. Coke post:

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.

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.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~