Altering the Sugar but Not the Sweet
How Dannon is doing a
disservice to our Kids!
Published on May 13, 2013
by Dina Rose, Ph.D. in
Flavor diversity is dead. Have you heard? Sweet is the only flavor left. Especially if you consider the foods we feed our kids.
I concede to exaggerating just a little. You can still find salty out there too. But real flavor diversity--sour!--is but a memory (unless you count the Sour Patch Kids candy which pairs sour with sweet).
Dannon has spent two years figuring out how to produce a yogurt with 25% less sugar that consumers won't find less sweet.
How'd they do it? By altering the natural acidity of yogurt. You see, it takes a lot of sugar to mask the natural tart and acidic flavor of yogurt and relatively little sugar to "enhance" blander tasting yogurt.
The result is not what The New York Times reported this past weekend as, "The Trek to a Yogurt Less Sweet." Rather, it was a trek to a yogurt with less sugar. It's an important distinction.
If you're thinking only about nutrition it might make sense to count the grams of sugar in a product. But it's crazy if you're thinking about habits.
• Kids don't eat nutrition, they eat flavor. And flavor drives habits.
• Learning to like a broad range of flavors is key to new food acceptance.
If you want your kids to like broccoli, mushrooms...even apples, consider the flavors you most frequently feed them. And then ask yourself if those flavors are moving your kids' taste preferences towards or away from the kinds of foods you'd really like them to eat.
Is it really a win to feed kids yogurt that tastes really sugary-- even if it has less sugar-- if it reinforces your kids' love of all things sweet? And if most of those foods are nutritional losers?
It's natural to think that kids come ready-wrapped with certain taste preferences, and that parents have to feed to those tastes. This is contrary to everything we know about how food preferences are formed.
I'm not saying that kids don't start out with a preference for sweet flavors. I'm saying something more important:
American children, by and large, have poor food preferences because we feed them a steady stream of uniformly flavored foods that point our kids towards the taste of junk and away from the taste of healthy foods. Changing the nutrition profile of foods--as Dannon has done--without altering the flavors we feed, won't fundamentally change how our children eat.
What's next? Magically altering apples so they taste like Coke? Adding more science to our food supply isn't the solution. Teaching kids to appreciate different kinds of foods is.
Taste preferences aren't set in stone. In fact, they're quite malleable. That's how Indian kids end up eating Indian food, Mexican kids end up eating Mexican food and American kids end up eating hot dogs. And all things sweet.
Submitted by Mr. Tom Lowe