Jogurti many consider healthy foods, but a study conducted in the UK has shown that many of these products may not be as good for health as you think.
The team led by researchers from Leeds University in the United Kingdom analyzed a nutrition table with more than 900 products and concluded that many were made with a large amount of sugar. This includes those classified as organic.
In some cases, yoghurts even overlook the non-alcoholic beverages in the amount of sugar used in the production. Only natural and Greek yogurts are considered as low content of the product.
Discovering the study comes at the same time as the Brazilian Ministry of Health negotiates an agreement with the food industry to reduce sugar in industrial products, including yogurt.
Excessive sugar consumption is common among Brazilians, and there is a higher risk of chronic non-selective diseases such as diabetes.
"The result of this study is very worrying because yoghurts are sold as healthy products and are very much consumed by children," says Ana Clara Duran, a Nutritionist from the Unicamp Food Research and Research Nuclear Plant.
"When it's natural, it's actually healthy, but when it comes to color, sugar and other supplements, it turns into an ultraproduced product." Parents think they're doing something cool, giving yoghurts a baby, but it's not. "And it's also worrying for adults because 54% population is overweight, and almost 20% obese. "
However, Brazilian consumers hardly know how much sugar is yogurt sold in the country.
Manufacturers are not required to report their content on the food tables of available products – and only a small part of them makes it voluntary.
However, there is a suggestion to change this in the discussion at the National Agency for Surveillance of Sanitary Systems (Anvisa).
Like ice cream as a coolant
The British survey looked at 921 internet sales of five of the nation's largest supermarket chains, accounting for 75% of the market.
They are divided into eight categories most commonly used by supermarkets: children, desserts, alternative dairy products, aromatized, natural or pear fruit, natural / Greek and organic.
The research has shown that the category contains the most dessert sugar, with an average of 16.4 g per 100 g of product. However, products that did not contain yogurts or cream cheeses such as chocolate mousse and candy creams were included, which affected this result.
The second lowest category was organic yogurt, with 13.1 g to 100 g. Infant contains 10.8 g per 100 g.
The most popular soda base contains 10.6 g per 100 ml.
How much sugar is in yogurt?
- Deserts – 16.4 g every 100 g
- Organic – 13.1 g per 100g
- Flavored – 12g each 100g
- With fruits – 11.9 g every 100 g
- Children – 10.8g every 100g
- An alternative to dairy products – 9.2 g every 100 g
- Dairy drinks – 9.1 g per 100 g
- Natural and Greek – 5g per 100g
To be classified as low sugar products, yogurts should have a maximum of 5 g per 100 g. Only 9% of the products investigated by the researchers at the University of Leeds fit into this.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that free sugars, including those added to industrialized foods, do not exceed 10% of daily calorie intake, equivalent to 50g. Greater health benefits can be obtained if this index is 5% or 25g.
The 5% threshold recommends the American Heart Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating heart disease and vascular system, for children aged 2 to 12 years. Those younger than 2 years should not drink sugar.
Most Brazilian products do not report the amount of sugar
In Brazil, consumers do not know how much sugar is present in most industrial products.
Food labeling rules are set by Anvis, and the current table of nutrition standards, which has been in place since 2003, does not require manufacturers to report sugar content in food.
"At the time these rules were established, there was so much evidence that combined the consumption of ultra-processed food and their influence as agents of chronic diseases such as diabetes, excess weight and dental caries," explains Ana Paula Bortoletto, Food Program Manager of the Brazilian Food Institute for Consumer Protection (Idec).
"Companies say they do not report because it's a production secret and they do not have to do it. They think it's a market strategy or they want to hide it."
Duran, of Unicampa, says that, due to the lack of mandatory, most of the products sold in the Brazilian supermarket do not contain this information.
"When this happens, the company has some interest in reporting on it because it wants to emphasize that it is a low-sugar product or because it's already internationally interested in the same in Brazil," says Duran.
The only indication that the Brazilian product today contains a lot of sugar is the list of ingredients present in the label. First, those that have been used in greater quantities in production are the ones that appear. But one obstacle is that manufacturers often use different types of sugar, explains Bortoletto.
"It can be used as a syrup, maltose and fructose, so instead of grouping the sugar in the list appears in a diluted way, and even if you want to know how much it is used in a product, the consumer can not find out if there is enough sugar or not."
At the same time, most Brazilians usually consume too much sugar. The 2008/2009 Family Budget Survey, the latest in solving this problem, recognized this habit in 61.3% of the population.
On average, free sugar intake was 14% of calorie intake, above 10% recommended by the WHO – when it exceeds that limit, consumption is considered to be excessive.
"Brazil consumes sugar, but not a table, but added to ultra-processed food because it's a cheap ingredient, and the industry uses it and puts a large amount that adjusts the taste of consumers to consuming things that are getting slower," says Bortoletto.
Duran points out that this habit can be particularly harmful in childhood. "It can be adapted to the taste throughout the life of a child, which loves their food."
Nutritionists who have heard BBC News Brazil agree that the absence of sugar content in the nutrition table is detrimental to consumers.
"It's not easy to know how much sugar you have in a filled cookie, for example, it's bad to have access to that data, since the consumption of ultra-processed products is increasing," says Bortoletto.
"People can not make a conscious choice of what they will eat, depending on the information on the label that is always positive, as it is said that the product is rich in fiber or integral."
Duran argues that it is urgently better to inform the consumer in order to reduce the incidence of diseases associated with excessive consumption of this substance.
"Sugar is one of the nutrients that have a stronger relationship with chronic invasive diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Failure to inform its content contributes to people who have inadequate nutrition and a greater prevalence of these problems."
Anvision discusses the change
A change in that direction is considered by Anvis in order to oblige manufacturers to report in the tables total and additional food sugars.
The first report was approved in May this year and is now in the public consultation phase to produce a new standard, BBC News Brazil reported.
Changes would include standardizing nutrition information contained in the nutrition table in 100g or 100ml increments – today, the amount of information that is being notified differs.
The products will continue to be on the front label of a high content ingredient label that, if consumed in excess, can be harmful to health, such as sugar, sodium and fats.
One of the suggestions sent by Idec is that there is a warning sign on the front of the product. Nevertheless, the industry advocates the adoption of another model, inspired by a semaphore, in which the colors of green, yellow, and red indicate whether the quantities within those are recommended.
In defense of this model, the Brazilian Association of Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Abir) published last year's Ibopa study that showed that 67% of the participants prefer nutritionist traffic light to the warning.
Bortoletto, of Ideca, says the color system can boost the consumption of unhealthy products. "Soda can have, for example, a green light for sodium and fat."
Duran, of Unicampa, says the available scientific literature points out that the food industry proposal is not the most effective. "Ideca's proposal is clearer and more objective and makes it easier for the consumer to make a decision at the time of purchase".
Bortoletto explains that after the end of the public consultation phase, a new standard is expected at the beginning of next year. "Manufacturers will then have a year to fit in. If it's all good in 2020, we'll get better labels."