If you've ever read the label on your child's yogurt and felt dismayed by the amount of sugar, here's some sweet news: Stonyfield says it has plans to cut the amount of added sugar in its yogurts, including eliminating sugar entirely from its line for babies.
Yogurt often gets a bad rap as a source of hidden sugar. To be fair, some of that is natural sugar (lactose), which is why the Nutrition Facts Panel on plain yogurt will still show it contains sugar. But manufacturers also use different forms of added sugar to cut the tart flavor of yogurt—and sometimes in amounts that seem more on par with dessert than a healthy breakfast or snack.
Stonyfield recently announced that it was working to reduce sugar in its yogurts, starting with products for kids and babies. The company cut the sugar in its YoKids line of yogurt cups and smoothies from 12 grams per serving to 9 grams (that's almost a whole teaspoon less). In May, it will launch YoKids squeeze yogurts with a lower-sugar recipe, down from 8 grams per serving to 6 grams. Though it already has a plain, unsweetened version of the YoBaby yogurt, the company is working on nixing added sugar from all of its flavored YoBaby yogurts as well.
Stonyfield also plans to reduce sugar in some of its other products (like the Smooth & Creamy yogurt) by 25 percent.
With added sugar on so many people's radars—and new recommendations for all kids to cut added sugar—it makes sense that companies are trying to tweak their products to address those concerns. And products for kids are a great place to start, since flavor preferences are shaped in childhood. If kids grow up on foods and drinks that aren't overly sweetened, they won't require lots of added sugar to be satisfied—and they'll be better able to stay within the healthy limits. As a dietitian and mom, I also appreciate when companies simply reduce the sweetness without using artificial sweeteners to make up for less added sugar. Foods don't have to be super sweet to be tasty.
It's especially encouraging to see yogurt for babies made without added sugar, since recent advice from the American Heart Association states babies should have no added sugar at all. Besides, most babies enjoy the natural flavor of foods without added salt and sugar—even plain yogurt, which is typically too tart for most grown-ups. (Remember that while milk isn't recommended for babies until age 1, yogurt is safe starting at 6 months when your baby begins solids.)
Here's hoping more companies follow Stonyfield's lead.
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of The Snacktivist's Handbook: How to Change the Junk Food Snack Culture at School, in Sports, and at Camp—and Raise Healthier Snackers at Home. She also collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.