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Everyday shopping: Dairy desserts

We take a look at those other pottles in the dairy section of your supermarket.

We know yoghurt is good food – assuming we choose a variety that's not too high in sugar or fat  – but what about the other attractive-looking dairy products?

Dairy food is made from milk and sugar with added flavouring and colour, usually using starch as a thickener. Some products like this are also described as 'custard'. Yoghurt, on the other hand, is a fermented milk product.

You'll find dairy food, custard and yoghurt packs covered with graphics and styles that are very appealing to younger children. Some may find this off-putting – can healthy food really be called 'wicked chocolate' flavour or be brought to you by 'SpongeBob SquarePants'?

Are they healthy?

Because they are milk-based, these products are a good source of calcium and other nutrients for children's diets. These are all low-fat products but there is a concern with the amount of added sugar.

You're best to compare the per serve nutrition information rather than the per 100g column on the pottle as these products are all in single-serve containers. For the balance of higher calcium and lower sugars, we particularly liked the Anchor Calci Yum Squeezables. Still, one pottle has 17g of sugar, which is about a quarter of the recommended upper limit of sugar per day for an average active seven-year-old. The SpongeBob SquarePants dairy food, while higher in calcium, has 21g of sugar in a pottle – a third of the recommended daily sugar amount for an average seven-year-old.

Some of the sugar in dairy products is the natural milk sugar, lactose. For comparison, 150ml of trim milk contains 8g (natural) sugar and a 150ml pottle of unsweetened yoghurt would have around 5g (natural) sugars. A fruit yoghurt will have more natural sugar again, and many yoghurts will have added sugar as well.

Products for grown-ups range from the decadent to the dainty. Again, because they're dairy-based, these products will add to your daily calcium intake, although less than milk or yoghurt. One serve of one of the products we had, had 8-13% of an average adult's daily needs.

Of the products chosen, we thought one – the Fresh 'n Fruity Lemon Meringue Yoghurt Fruit Mousse – could be suitable for a snack any time. The others were probably best saved for a treat. The Lemon Meringue Yoghurt Fruit Mousse was the lowest in sugar at 14g – although that's nearly 20% of the ideal upper amount of daily recommended sugars for an average adult. It was also low in saturated fat. With a total energy of 415kJ, we thought it would be a tasty snack when you want something sweet rather than savoury. But note that this product only gets into the 'snack' category by virtue of its small 90g pack size.

Although Yoplait's Frûche was also low in saturated fat (less than 1g), we put it into the dessert or 'treat' category because of the high sugar content in the 150g pottle. (We're assuming you're going to eat the whole pottle.) At 23g sugar, that's around 30% of an average adult's daily sugar allowance. At 582kJ, you could argue for having it as a snack if you have little sugar in the rest of your day – but keep in mind many sugars are hidden. With Yoplait's Vigeur Chocolate Moments, however, there's no debate. They're higher in saturated fat than the dairy desserts (4g) as well as being high in sugar (over 20g). These are not everyday foods, but that doesn't mean you can't ever treat yourself.

Kids

  • Think of dairy food as a treat.
  • Don't use in place of other dairy products like milk or yoghurt.
  • Use 'per serve' as a guideline, not per 100g and compare products side by side.
  • Look for lower sugar.
  • Look for higher calcium.

Adults

  • Think of dairy desserts as treats.
  • Use 'per serve' as a guideline, not per 100g and compare products side by side.
  • Look for higher calcium.
  • Look for lower saturated fat.
  • Look for less than 20g sugar per serve.
First published: Oct 2008



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