The Sugar Trap: Yogurt for Kids

I recently posted in Facebook about how much SUGAR there is in drinks that kids consume, and got a request to tackle the “bad yogurt for kids” issue. Things have changed. When my kids were young, I was excited that they liked yogurt, so I didn’t think about all the sugar in it.  At that time, there were not many alternatives to the basic Yoplait with all the sugary fruit in the bottom. One of the primary reasons that yogurt is good for you is because it contains fermented strains of bacteria and yeast that help digest food and put the “good bacteria” in your digestive system. Studies show that kids who use probiotics have a healthier immune system and fewer seasonal colds and flu episodes. I also saw a link stating that probiotics taken in pregnancy reduce the incidence of autism!

A good reference on the subject is: “What to Eat” by Marion Nestle, a renowned nutritionist, lecturer and former professor of nutrition at NYU. She was featured in the movie “Super Size Me”.

(For reference, 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar).

“Sugars constitute 55 percent of the 80 calories in Go-Gurt , 67 percent of the 90 calories in Danimals Drinkable (Danon’s version of kid yogurt) and 68 percent of the 170 calories in Danimals XL. Even in Stonyfield’s YoBaby organic yogurts, marketed for infants and toddlers, 53 percent of the 120 calories come from added sugars.  Some of Stonyfield’s yogurts for older kids appear berry-flavored, but they have no fruit at all; their sweetness comes from juice concentrate and sugars, of course, and their color comes from beet juice.  Stonyfield may be organic, but it is Big Yogurt: Group Danone (Danon Yogurt) owns 85 percent of the company.”


So how do you get kids to eat yogurt that is healthier for them? Even the Greek yogurts such as Chobani and Oikos have 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in a small carton. Trader Joe’s Greek Style Nonfat Plain yogurt is the best with 6 grams (about 1 ½ teaspoons) of sugar in the container. Other suggestions:

  • Sweeten it a bit with organic juice that isn’t so high in sugar
  • Use fresh or frozen organic fruit
  • Try a little bit of Stevia or Agave syrup to sweeten
  • Add whole grain cereals, granola, and nuts to add a nice crunch
  • Cinnamon and spices, add a nice touch and flavor
  • Use it in a smoothie
  • Use Kefir, a liquid, fermented milk drink that has great probiotics and yeast cultures, but you still have to watch for sugar in the prepared ones as well.


I guess there is no easy answer, but if you can get your kids to eat a healthier version of yogurt, it is considerably better than a sugar snack or candy, Right??

Even as infants, we have a taste for sweet things (breast milk has its own sugar for energy), but I think the key is to start them with whole foods and fruits that have natural sugars to avoid the dreaded “sugary sweet tooth”.

 A couple of my favorite probiotic products for kids are: Metagenics  UltraFlora Children’s Chewable Probiotic  (SKU M898C: and DDS Junior (SKU U898) on Have a wonderful and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.


Ultra Flora, Probiotic,

Dr. Susan