Yoghurts are considered by many to be healthy foods, but studies carried out in United Kingdom has shown that many of these products may not be as good for health as they would think.
Team led by scientists from University of Leeds, analyzed in the UK a nutrition table of over 900 products and concluded that many of them are made from a large amount of sugar. These include those that are classified as organic.
In some cases, yogurts even carry non-alcoholic beverages in the amount of sugar used in production. Only natural and Greek yogurts were considered to be low-content products.
The publication of the study comes at the same time that the Brazilian Ministry of Health is dealing with the food industry to reduce sugar in industrial products, including yoghurts.
Excessive sugar consumption is common with Brazilians and there is a greater risk of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.
"The result of this study is very worrying because yogurts are sold as healthy products and are highly consumed by children," says Nutrition Ana Clara Duran of Nucleus of Studies and Research in Food of Unicamp.
"When it's natural, it's really healthy, but once it gets dyed, sugar and other ingredients, it turns into an ultraprocessed product. The parent thinks he's doing something cold by giving a baby yogurt, but it's not. also worry about adults because 54% of the population is overweight and nearly 20% is obese. "
However, Brazilian consumers barely know how much yogurt sugar they sell in the country.
Manufacturers are not required to indicate their content on the food tables of available products – and only a small part of them is voluntary.
However, there is a proposal to change this in a debate at the National Health Inspection Agency (Anvisa).
Like sugar as a refrigerant
The British survey focused on 921 products sold on the Internet to five of the largest supermarkets in the country, accounting for 75% of the market.
They were divided into the eight categories most commonly used by supermarkets: kids, desserts, dairy alternatives, flavored fruits (in nature or in the form of puree), natural / Greek and organic.
The study showed that the category most commonly containing sugar comes from desserts, averaging 16.4 grams per 100 grams of product. However, products that did not contain yoghurt or cream cheese, such as chocolate foam and caramel creams, were included, which affected this result.
The second strongest category was organic yogurt, with 13.1g per 100g. Infants include 10.8 g per 100 g.
The most popular sodium salt contains 10.6 g per 100 ml.
How Much Sugar Is In Yoghurt?
Desserts – 16,4 g per 100 g
Organic – 13,1 g per 100 g
Flavored – 12g per 100g
With fruit – 11.9 g per 100 g
Children – 10,8 g per 100 g
Alternatives to dairy products – 9.2 g per 100 g
Dairy drinks – 9.1 g per 100 g
Natural and Greek – 5g every 100g
In order to be classified as low-sugar products, yogurts should have a maximum of 5g per 100g. Only 9% of the products surveyed by researchers at Leeds University are counted.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that free sugars, including those added to industrial foods, do not exceed 10% of the daily calorie intake, equivalent to 50g. Greater health benefit can be gained if the index is 5% or 25g.
The 5% threshold is recommended by the American Heart Association, a nonprofit organization targeting cardiovascular and vascular disease, for children aged 2 to 12 years. Those under 2 years should not consume any sugar.
Most Brazilian products do not indicate the amount of sugar
In Brazil, consumers can not know how much sugar is present in the vast majority of industrial products.
Food labeling rules are set by Anvisa and the current Nutrition Table standard, valid since 2003, does not require manufacturers to report sugar content in food.
"By the time these rules were introduced, there is so much evidence that combines the consumption of sugar from ultra-processed foods and their impact as the cause of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, overweight and dental decay," explains Ana Paula Bortoletto, head of the Nutrition Department of Brazil's Healthy Nutrition Program Consumer Protection Institute (Idec).
"Companies say they do not say it because they are a manufacturing secret, and they are not obliged to do it. They think it's a market strategy or they want to hide it."
Duran of Unicamp says that because of the lack of commitment, most of the products sold in Brazilian supermarkets do not provide this information.
"When this happens, the company has an interest in reporting because it wants to emphasize that it is a low-sugar product, or because it is already doing its best to inform and do the same in Brazil," says Duran .
The only indication that the Brazilian has today that the product contains a lot of sugar is the list of ingredients that are on the label. At first, those that were used in production in larger quantities first appeared. One obstacle, however, is that manufacturers often use different types of sugar, explains Bortoletto.
"It can be used as syrup, maltose, fructose, so instead of grouping, the sugar in this list is diluted in a dilute manner, and if you want to know how much was used in the product, the consumer can not see if there is enough sugar or not. "
At the same time, most Brazilians usually consume too much sugar. The family budget survey for 2008/2009, which first dealt with this issue, identified this practice in 61.3% of the population.
The average sugar intake was on average 14% of the daily calorie intake, which is more than 10% recommended by the WHO – when it exceeds this limit, consumption is considered excessive.
"Sugar consumption in Brazil is increasing, but not in the table, but that which adds to ultra-processed food because it is a cheap ingredient, and the industry uses it and brings a large amount that adapts the consumer's taste, things that are sweeter," says Bortoletto.
Duran emphasizes that this habit can be particularly detrimental in childhood. "He can enjoy the appetite of a child throughout his life, which prefers more sweet foods."
Nutrition Hearing BBC News Brazil agrees that the lack of sugar content in the nutrition table is harmful to the consumer.
"It's not easy to know how much sugar you have in a stuffed biscuit, for example, it's bad to have access to these data, as the consumption of ultra-process products is increasing," says Bortoletto.
"People can not make a conscious choice of what they want to eat, they depend on information on the label, which is always positive, as if they say the product is rich in fiber or integral."
Duran argues that it is urgent to better inform consumers to try to reduce the incidence of diseases associated with excessive consumption of this substance.
"Sugar is one of the nutrients that has a stronger relationship with chronic non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease." "No information about content contributes to food shortages and increased incidence of these problems."
The change is being discussed by Anvisa
A change in this direction is being discussed by Anvisa, which requires manufacturers to indicate total and additional sugars in the food.
The preliminary report was approved in May this year and is now in a public consultation phase to prepare a new standard, BBC News Brazil reported.
Changes would include the standardization of the nutritional information contained in the nutrition table at doses of 100g or 100ml – the amount of the portion of the infor- mation currently differs.
The products would still be on the front of the label, which would mean a high content of ingredients that may be harmful to health such as sugar, sodium and fat in case of excessive consumption.
One of the ideas put forward by Idec is that the front of the product is a warning sign. The industry advocates the adoption of another model inspired by traffic lights, in which green, yellow and red colors would indicate whether the number is recommended.
To defend this model, the Brazilian Association of Soft Drinks and Soft Drinks (Abir) published last year a survey by Ibope, which indicated that 67% of participants preferred nutrition lights.
Idec's Bortoletto says the color system can stimulate the consumption of unhealthy products. "Soda can have, for example, green light for sodium and fat."
Duran of Unicampu says that available scientific literature suggests that the design of the food industry is not the most effective. "The Idec proposal is clearer and more objective and makes it easier for the consumer to decide at the time of purchase."
Bortoletto explains that after the public consultation phase is expected, the new standard is expected to be adopted early next year. "Manufacturers will have a year to throw them in. If everything is good in 2020, we'll get better labels."