Some supermarket yoghurts may contain more sugar than soft drinks despite being regarded as “healthy”, a new study has warned.

Researchers have found that fewer than one in ten categories of yoghurt sold in British supermarkets qualify as low-sugar, with brands labelled “organic” or those marketed at young children among the most sugary.

yoghourt is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as “yogurt cultures”. Fermentation of lactose by these bacteria produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and characteristic tart flavor.

A typical yoghurt contained more than half an adults daily recommended sugar allowance. The researchers assessed the nutrient content of almost 900 yoghurts and yoghurt products, which were available from five major UK online supermarket chains in late 2016.

Under the traffic lights nutritional labeling system, products with less than 5g of sugar per 100g can be given the green rating, while those with 22.5g per 100g are considered high in sugar. However, only those labelled “natural” or “Greek” qualified as low-sugar products.

The total average sugars included in organic yoghurt was 13.1g per 100g and in childrens yoghurts it was 10.8. There is 10.6g of sugar per 100ml of Coca-Cola. A millilitre of water weighs the same as a gram. The recommended daily allowance of sugar is 30g.

The researchers from Surrey and Leeds Universities wrote: “While yoghurt may be less of a concern than soft drinks and fruit juices, the chief sources of free sugars in both children and adults diets, what is worrisome is that yoghurt, as a perceived “healthy food”, maybe an unrecognised source of free and added sugars in the diet”.

“While the organic label refers to production, the well documented health-halo effect means that consumers most often underestimate the caloric content and perceive the nutritional contents of organic products, including yoghurts, more favourably,” they said.

Yoghurts do contain naturally occurring sugar, called lactose, but UK labeling laws do not require manufacturers to declare added sugars, the authors said.

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