Sweet Sweet Dairy!

Photo: Kjell Merok

I am an early state researcher at the Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay. I will investigate strategies to reduce sugar in dairy products for children and apply several sensory methods to ensure that those products are still liked by children.   

More than 6 billion people consume dairy products around the world (1) and according to the International Dairy Federation the per capita consumption in 2017 was 113 kg (2). Dairy products are recommended as part of children‘s diet due to their content of high-quality proteins, macronutrients such as calcium and vitamins, and essential and nonessential fatty acids. However, many dairy products, particularly those targeted at children, have a high content of added sugar.  

Although sugar sweetened beverages are considered the highest contributors of added sugars in children´s diets, dairy products have received increasing attention. A recent study that looked at 900 yogurt products in five major supermarket chains in the United Kingdom revealed that yoghurts aimed to children are among the products with the highest sugar content (3) 

This study found that on average a serving of yoghurt has 10.8 g of added sugar. In other words, with a single serving of yoghurt a child would be eating more than the 40% of the daily added sugar recommended by the American Heart Association, who endorses that children over 2 years old should consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar (4) 

There is a strong need to reduce the sugar content of dairy products. However, this is not an easy task since sugar not only contributes to flavor but also to other characteristics such as texture and color. Moreover, the preference of children for higher levels of sugar and the presence of highly sugary products in the market to which children are already accustomed makes even more challenging the reformulation of dairy products. 

I believe we need to focus in developing sugar reduction strategies which are not only based on quantity reduction but also strategies that at the end of the journey allow children to actively choose less sweet products.  

If we could slowly and gradually reduce the sugar on food so that children will get used without noticing the difference over a couple of years we could have products equally liked but with 30% or 40% less sugar! 


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization (n.d.). Milk and milk products. Retrieved from:  http://www.fao.org/dairy-production-products/products/en/ 
  2. International Dairy Federation. (2018). The world dairy situation 2018. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation, 494, 7.  
  3. Moore, J. B., Horti, A., & Fielding, B. A. (2018). Evaluation of the nutrient content of yogurts: a comprehensive survey of yogurt products in the major UK supermarkets. BMJ Open, 8(8), e021387.  
  4. Goran, M. I., Riemer, S. L., & Alderete, T. L. (2017). Simplified and age-appropriate recommendations for added sugars in children. Pediatric Obesity, 13(4), 269–272. 

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