Dietitian Lyndi Cohen looks into yoghurt pouches for children

Is your child's squeezy pouch of yoghurt REALLY healthy? The five things you need to know when buying the popular food item

  • Yoghurt pouches are popular with parents, but they're not always healthy
  • Choice looked at some of the popular squeezy yoghurt pouches on the market
  • They revealed the five things you need to know when buying them
  • Dietitian Lyndi Cohen revealed how you can make sure you're buying a good one

By Sophie Haslett For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 20:38 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 03:11 EDT, 17 May 2018

They're the convenience items beloved by busy parents everywhere.

But have you ever stopped to wonder just how healthy your child's squeezy pouch of yoghurt really is?

Consumer organisation Choice took a look at the popular lunchbox options, and while they found you could do worse with your choices, they also found that often those products boasting fruits or pureed vegetables are in fact laden with sugar.

Taking into account 38 different products, they rated the yoghurts according to their health star rating, sugar content, protein, energy, fat and more.

Choice also revealed the five things you should know before you bulk buy the yoghurts.

Squeezy yoghurt pouches are often popular with parents as they are convenient, but they are not always supremely healthy (stock image)
Squeezy yoghurt pouches are often popular with parents as they are convenient, but they are not always supremely healthy (stock image)

Squeezy yoghurt pouches are often popular with parents as they are convenient, but they are not always supremely healthy (stock image)

Consumer organisation Choice looked at popular options on the market, and found all contained added sugar
Consumer organisation Choice looked at popular options on the market, and found all contained added sugar
Calci Yum products (pictured) rated the best in health star ratings
Calci Yum products (pictured) rated the best in health star ratings

Consumer organisation Choice looked at popular options on the market, and found all contained added sugar - Calci Yum products (pictured) rated the best in health star ratings

1. They all have added sugar 

According to Choice, the first thing you need to remember when buying these products is that they all have some degree of added sugar.

'All of the squeezy yoghurts we looked at contain added sugar, but the positive spin on the product labels might lead you to think otherwise,' they wrote on a post. 

'Taking the Rafferty's Garden product names at face value, you'd reasonably assume they contain just that: "yoghurt, fruit + nothing else". But the ingredients list reveals the yoghurt component is sweetened with sugar,' Choice wrote.

Meanwhile, other products - including Calci Yum products - claim they contain '25 per cent less sugar'.

But this 25 per cent 'less refers to an average fruit yoghurt, not other squeezy yoghurts'.  

Choice highlighted that the yoghurt products with the most sugar from their testing were the Just Organic yoghurts (from Aldi) and Gippsland Dairy Mini Organics yoghurts, which both contained '75-97 per cent more sugars than natural yoghurt'.

Gippsland products (pictured) received 2.5/5 in health star ratings - Choice said it pays to look at the ingredients list
Gippsland products (pictured) received 2.5/5 in health star ratings - Choice said it pays to look at the ingredients list

Gippsland products (pictured) received 2.5/5 in health star ratings - Choice said it pays to look at the ingredients list

2. Some aren't a good source of calcium 

While you might expect some fruit yoghurts to have a certain amount of sugar in them, what you might not be prepared for is that they're not always filled with calcium.

But Choice found wide variations in the amount of calcium included - from 93mg up to 300mg per 100 grams.

They advised that a product is a 'good source of calcium' is it contains no less than 25 per cent of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for that mineral.

It's worth bearing in mind that the older the child, the more calcium they need.

Lots of the yoghurts had high sugar contents - but some of them were also surprisingly low in calcium (pictured: Woolworths products)
Lots of the yoghurts had high sugar contents - but some of them were also surprisingly low in calcium (pictured: Woolworths products)
Lots of the yoghurts had high sugar contents - but some of them were also surprisingly low in calcium (pictured: Coles product)
Lots of the yoghurts had high sugar contents - but some of them were also surprisingly low in calcium (pictured: Coles product)

Lots of the yoghurts had high sugar contents - but some of them were also surprisingly low in calcium (pictured: Woolworths and Coles products)

How some popular yoghurts stacked up

The top three:

1. Calci Yum Fruit Salad, Strawberry and Vanilla Yoghurt (70g) - 4.5 health star rating (out of 5).

Joint 1. Yoplait Yoplus (1000g) - 4.5/5.

2. Calci Yum Banana Yoghurt (70g) - 4/5.

3. Coles Strawberry Yoghurt (70g) - 3.5/5. 

Joint 3. Woolworths Select Yummy Snacks Strawberry/Vanilla Yoghurt (70g) - 3.5/5. 

The bottom three:

1. Just Organic (Aldi) Yogurt Strawberry/Blueberry (70g) - 2/5.

2. Rafferty's Garden Yoghurt in Watermelon, Strawberry & Apple, Blueberries, Banana & Apple, Apple, Pear & Cinnamon and Banana, Pear & Mango (90g) - 2.5/5.

Joint 2. Just Organic (Aldi) Yogurt Vanilla Bean (70g) - 2.5/5.

Joint 2. Gippsland Dairy Mini Organics Yogurt Vanilla/Strawberry (70g) - 2.5/5.

Joint 2. Five:am Vanilla Bean/Strawberry/Mixed Berry Organic Yoghurt (120g) - 2.5/5.

3. Yoplait Petit Miam Veggie Squeezie Sweet Potato & Pear Yoghurt/Sweet Potato & Guava Yoghurt/Pumpkin & Apple Yoghurt/Beetroot & Strawberry Yoghurt (70g) - 3/5.

Joint 3. Brooklea (Aldi) Yogurt Squishy Banana/Strawberry/Tropicana (70g) - 3/5.

Joint 3. Coles Banana/Vanilla Yoghurt (70g) - 3/5.

Joint 3. Vaalia Kids Banana/Strawberry/Tropical Yoghurt (140g) - 3/5.

Source: Choice 

The organisation said the best way to identify a good squeezy yoghurt is to look carefully at the ingredients list (pictured: products by Rafferty's Garden)
The organisation said the best way to identify a good squeezy yoghurt is to look carefully at the ingredients list (pictured: products by Rafferty's Garden)
The organisation said the best way to identify a good squeezy yoghurt is to look carefully at the ingredients list (pictured: products by Yoplait)
The organisation said the best way to identify a good squeezy yoghurt is to look carefully at the ingredients list (pictured: products by Yoplait)

The organisation said the best way to identify a good squeezy yoghurt is to look carefully at the ingredients list (pictured: products by Rafferty's Garden and Yoplait)

3. The fruit and veg content may not meet expectations

Just because there's a picture of a banana or some pumpkin on the label, it doesn't necessarily mean that that product is filled with the real deal.

'Some yoghurts appear to be flavoured with minimally processed real fruit. But the fruit content in others is more like a kind of jam made from fruit purée, water and sugar with thickeners, colours and food acids,' Choice explained.

The best way to tell is to look closely at the ingredients list.

A dietitian's point of view 

Dietitian Lyndi Cohen (pictured) recommended you opt for plain yoghurt sweetened with fruit where possible
Dietitian Lyndi Cohen (pictured) recommended you opt for plain yoghurt sweetened with fruit where possible

Dietitian Lyndi Cohen (pictured) recommended you opt for plain yoghurt sweetened with fruit where possible

Dietitian Lyndi Cohen said that while some of the pouches are healthy options, 'many are loaded with sugar, making them more of a treat than an everyday food. 

'While they are convenient, they don't teach children how to eat using utensils,' Lyndi added. 'When looking for a healthy pouch, look for ingredients you recognise. Yoghurt naturally contains sugar, but what you want to avoid is buying products with plenty of added sugar.

'Sugar can sneak in under a whole number of different names from fruit juice, syrup, glucose, fruit puree, cane juice and agave nectar, to name a few.'

She concluded: 'While less convenient, small pots of plain yoghurt sweetened with fresh fruit or honey is still ideal.' 

Lots of yoghurt products - but not all - contain additives, including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours
Lots of yoghurt products - but not all - contain additives, including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours
Lots of yoghurt products - but not all - contain additives, including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours
Lots of yoghurt products - but not all - contain additives, including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours

Lots of yoghurt products - but not all - contain additives, including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours

4. Most contain additives

Yoghurts by and large should contain both milk and live yoghurt cultures.

But many store-bought options also contain additives including thickeners, acidity regulators, colours and flavours. 

Again, look out for them on the ingredients list. The consumer organisation said normally these will be listed as numbers.

The Yoplat Yoplus product (pictured) rated well, with a 4.5/5 health star rating
The Yoplat Yoplus product (pictured) rated well, with a 4.5/5 health star rating

The Yoplat Yoplus product (pictured) rated well, with a 4.5/5 health star rating

5. The benefits of 'live culture' ingredients may be negligible 

Lots of yoghurts boast about their product containing 'live cultures' that are good for your health.

'While live "friendly" bacteria can be beneficial for gut health in principle, there's no guarantee that these squeezy yoghurts contain enough of the right bacteria to survive in the yoghurt to colonise the gut,' Choice said.

Choice concluded that while the products are convenient, it's hard to beat natural yoghurt for a nutrition hit.  

Simply top it with fruit for a natural and healthy calcium hit. 

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