Why reading and writing is the road to happiness...

This blog started years ago as a place to muse on the life projects keeping me entertained. It is no surprise then that it has morphed into a blog about my reading as that has been my lifelong project. Here I review lots of different types of books, with an added focus on Australian women writers. Hope you enjoy - feel free to contribute to the conversation!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Just A Spoonful of Sugar?

I rarely read the nutritional information on food packaging – I’d rather not know how many kilojoules I’ve consumed when I throw down a packet of Allen’s lollies in one sitting. However, with the addition of a little tacker in our family unit, I’ve had to become a ‘responsible adult’ and hence, I find myself standing in front of a supermarket wall of Dora and Toy Story endorsed kids’ food, wondering which product might actually be healthy or merely a nicely wrapped bag of food additives. Hey, I can abuse my own body with salt and sugar, but I’d like to give my child at least a few good years of healthy organs. What has concerned me the most lately is Junior’s sweet tooth addiction to yoghurt – what if these kids’ yoghurts are full of sugar and additives? I don’t want to be that parent who is being lectured by the dentist as he or she removes rotting baby teeth from my toddler – I might as well just book my spot on A Current Affair now for their routine segment, “When Good Parents Turn Bad”.

Enter Catherine Saxelby’s ‘Complete Food and Nutrition Companion’ – Hardie Grant asked for readers to trial the information and I decided to use Catherine’s expert advice to go from being a baffled supermarket browser to a nutritionally expert shopper. So I decided to trial the vast array of yoghurts in the kids’ section of the supermarket to get to the bottom of my quest to find the healthiest yoghurt marketed to kids. First up - buy a selection of yoghurt pouches. Second task – feed child, who incidentally lapped them all up. What’s with babies and yoghurt? They throw the stuff back like it’s chocolate! Maybe it’s because they are eating the full cream stuff, unlike their adult counterparts with their depressingly watery low fat stuff...
Armed with Catherine’s cheat sheet on translating the nutrition information panel I have analysed four different yoghurts and these were my findings.

Petit Miam Squeezie – 249 kj per serving which seems fine, 8.3 grams of sugar, but 30mg of sodium as well! I see from Catherine’s book that the ingredients are listed in order of bulk in the product – so the order in this yoghurt is skim milk, sugar, water, banana (which they label as 5% - no quantifying of the other ingredients though), cream, milk solids, thickener, fructose, mineral calcium, halal gelatine and the list goes on with flavouring information. Hhmmm, so sugar is the second largest ingredient in this product.

 Pauls Yoghurt with Real Fruit – Same serving size, this time more kjs at 265. Same sugars as the Petit Maim at 8.3g but 47mg of sodium which is considerably more. It also had significantly less calcium than the previous yoghurt.  Interestingly though, this product has milk as its first ingredient which makes me revise the Petit Miam which only had skim milk. Babies and children should be having full cream milk (unless intolerant) so the Petit Miam might be lacking somewhat.  Second ingredient was skim milk, milk solids and then sugar, water and only 3% strawberries.

Vaalia Kids – Calculating to 70g from a 140g pouch, the kjs are 266, almost 7g of sugar and 37g of sodium. Ingredients start with whole milk, skim milk, water, sugar, milk solids, 3.5% of strawberries, rice starch and so on. This one is winning so far.

CalciYum – 244kj, with 8.1g sugar and 25mg of sodium. The main ingredient is skim milk, then milk solids, sugar, 5% fruit, cream, gelatine and so on. I've got to say, the Disney Princess marketing on this one appealed to me - so if I'm swayed by the marketing....

Interestingly, Rafferty’s baby yoghurt has approximately 10g sugar for 70g package but does not mention sugars in the large font ingredients list – which they say is largely real fruit and then yoghurt powder. Does this mean the sugar is part of the fruit? Or have they lumped it into the 1.5% yoghurt powder? This one seems very high in sugar but naturally so – within all the real fruit.

Catherine reminds her readers that ‘if some form of sugar appears as one of the first three ingredients the food is generally high in added sugar’. And what I have concluded here is that all of these products have about 10% of their product being sugar.  I did a bit of Googling on how yoghurt is actually made and found that natural yoghurt doesn’t contain sugar, BUT Catherine’s section on yoghurt reminds me that milk has sugar lactose – ahhh, maybe the sugar percentage comes from that? So maybe these yoghurts aren’t too bad for children after all? What I do know is that nutriotional information is a bit of a tricky business, which I guess is why Catherine has sought to break down the information.
Well, my conclusion is that all of these yoghurts have about the same amount of sugar but I might want to reconsider the skim milk versus whole milk ingredients. I guess in this world of McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut, a little bit of natural sugar, and a little bit of added sugar in a squeezie pouch of omega 3 packed yoghurty goodness can’t be all that bad surely? And now that I feel a little bit more aware of what the packaging is telling me –  maybe I should start looking at the very high sodium counts in what I’m eating...

Does anyone else use any of these products? It's been suggested to me before that natural yoghurt for adults is better for babies than the kids' stuff - is this just a case of convenient and appealing packaging?


  1. Sarah Wilson (of I Quit Sugar) and David Gillespie (of Sweet Poison) say not to eat over 6g of sugar per 100g for all foods - and don't go over 8g of sugar per 100g for dairy products.
    KH :)

  2. Well, those yoghurts certainly go over the 8grams don't they!

  3. The kid likes Valia and it's convenient. As part of a balanced diet I'm sure it's not doing any harm. It's not a Coke. If you're the type of parent to care enough to worry and check things, you and your baby will be fine.