New yogurt labels claim to lower diabetes risk: what you need to know.

The dairy aisle may look a bit different lately, with new labels on yogurt boasting its potential to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This change comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light for yogurt producers to make such claims, despite acknowledging the limited evidence supporting them.

Danone North America, the U.S. arm of the French yogurt maker, sought FDA clearance for what’s known as a “qualified health claim” back in 2018, and it was granted in March. This type of claim is permitted when there’s some evidence, though not significant scientific agreement, suggesting a product’s health benefits. To prevent any potential misinformation, products with qualified health claims must include disclaimers on their labels.

These claims have been permitted for dietary supplements since 2000 and for foods since 2002, following legal challenges to the FDA’s strict standards for product claims. Rather than face lawsuits, the FDA introduced qualified health claims as an alternative, allowing products to make health-related statements without the need for overwhelming scientific consensus.

So, what’s the deal with yogurt and Type 2 diabetes? Danone provided the FDA with studies suggesting a link between yogurt consumption and lower diabetes risk markers. However, critics argue that the evidence isn’t robust enough to support such claims. While there’s some indication that yogurt consumption may be associated with reduced diabetes risk factors, there’s no direct evidence that it prevents the disease.

Critics also raise concerns that promoting yogurt consumption could inadvertently increase diabetes risk if people choose varieties with added sugars and unhealthy mix-ins. Marion Nestle, a food policy expert, calls qualified health claims based on limited evidence “ridiculous on their face,” highlighting the need for caution when interpreting such labels.

In essence, while yogurt can be part of a balanced diet, it’s essential to view these claims with a critical eye and prioritize overall dietary patterns for managing diabetes risk.