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Variations in Sugar Content of Flavored Milks and Yogurts: A Cross-Sectional Study Across 3 Countries


Variations in Sugar Content of Flavored Milks and Yogurts: A Cross-Sectional Study Across 3 Countries

Daisy H Coyle et al. Curr Dev Nutr.


Background: The consumption of dairy products is encouraged at all life stages as a nutrient-rich component of the diet. However, many milk and yogurt products, particularly flavored varieties, may contain large amounts of free sugar.

Objectives: The aim of this paper was to evaluate the availability and sugar content of flavored milks and yogurts in supermarkets across 3 countries: Australia, England, and South.

Methods: Nutrition information for flavored milks and yogurts was collected by trained researchers and supplemented by crowd-sourced data from a smartphone application. Data were extracted in April 2018 and 3724 milk and yogurt products were available for analysis. Mean sugar concentrations were compared across countries with the use of ANOVA followed by Tukey's post-hoc pairwise comparisons. Sugar concentrations were compared with the UK's "green" traffic-light classifications.

Results: Approximately 74% (n = 2753) of all products were flavored. Flavored products contained nearly twice the average total sugar content of unflavored products, with substantial variability: mean total sugar was 9.1 g/100 mL (range: 4.3-15.0 g/100 mL) and 11.5 g/100 g (range: 0.1-22.6 g/100 g) for flavored milks and yogurts, respectively. Free sugars contributed an estimated 41% and 42% of total sugar in milks and yogurts, respectively. Flavored milks in England had ∼0.7 g/100 mL higher total sugar on average compared with Australia and South Africa (P ≤ 0.04), whereas flavored yogurts in South Africa had the lowest average total sugar (∼2 g/100 g lower than England and Australia; P < 0.001). Less than 4% of flavored products would receive a "green" rating under the UK traffic-light labeling scheme.

Conclusions: In Australia, England, and South Africa, flavored milks and yogurts are highly prevalent in the food supply and contain significantly higher concentrations of total and added sugars than unflavored products.

Keywords: dairy; free sugar; milk; noncommunicable disease; nutrition label; public health; sugar; sugar reduction; yogurt.


Flow chart of data collection and milk and yogurt products available for analyses.

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