Yogurt is a terrific food for kids (adults too). It is an excellent source of calcium and potassium, two nutrients in short supply in most children’s diets. The downside is that most of the “kid-friendly” yogurts deliver a hefty dose of added sugars. And unfortunately it’s difficult to figure out how much added sugar is in yogurt, since companies don’t list it on the nutrition facts panel. A four-ounce (1/2 cup) serving of plain, unsweetened yogurt has 8 grams of sugar coming from the naturally occurring milk sugar lactose. Anything above 8 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup is added sugar. One four-ounce serving of Dannon Danimals low-fat strawberry yogurt has 17 grams of sugar. When you subtract the 8 grams of lactose (the naturally-occurring sugar in yogurt) that leaves 9 grams of added sugar. At four calories per gram, this means your child is eating 36 calories of added sugars, accounting for about a third of the 110 calories in the container.
Here’s one way to handle the yogurt issue with your kids. Let them pick one pack of kid’s yogurt if they agree to mix it half and half with plain, unsweetened yogurt. When it’s gone, until the next shopping trip give them plain yogurt sweetened with fruit, a teaspoon of sugar (only 16 calories) or a teaspoon of maple syrup (13 calories). Your kids will learn that yogurt doesn’t need to be sticky sweet to be enjoyed.