Yogurt Companies Can Now Their Say Products Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Plenty of consumers reach for a protein-packed cup of yogurt to fill them up and fuel them through their day, but they might now have another reason to head to the yogurt aisle. This month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a petition for yogurt companies to claim that their products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes — with some caveats, that is.

The request to advertise this potential health benefit was made by Danone North America, the food producer behind yogurt brands including Oikos, Activia, and Two Good, back in 2018. In line with the vetting process for a food-related "qualified health claim," the agency reviewed studies linking yogurt to a lower type 2 diabetes risk. It concluded that though there was "limited scientific evidence" to support the claim, it was enough to make the connection. So while the agency will allow yogurt companies to advertise the link, they must note that there's limited information backing it.

The FDA will also require companies to acknowledge that the minimum serving size connected to the evidence is at least 2 cups (or three servings) of yogurt per week, and has advised "careful consideration" before promoting the connection on products with excess amounts of sugar. However, the decision ultimately allows Danone brands and its competitors, including Chobani and Yoplait, to include this claim of lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes on product labels.

The potential link between yogurt and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes

When you're looking for a healthy snack idea, yogurt can be a good choice. The product is not only packed with nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, potassium, and protein, but some studies have even linked consuming it with lowering high blood pressure and improving heart health (via Healthline). The presence of probiotics in this fermented food could also aid digestion and improve overall gut health (which, in turn, can have a positive effect on various metabolic functions in the body).

As far as yogurt's purported ability to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, there does seem to be some evidence, but as the FDA points out, the link is tenuous. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition cites observational evidence to conclude that adults who consumed yogurt daily faced a 14% lower risk of developing the disease, while a 2022 review of human and animal studies in the Journal of Dairy Science suggested that fermented dairy products, including yogurt, may offer protection against type 2 diabetes by decreasing insulin resistance and improving glycemic control. Still, it was noted that additional research was required to test these results among different populations. Since the FDA also stated that the intake of yogurt itself, rather than one specific component of it (fermented dairy or otherwise), was where it drew the connection, it suggests that more concrete evidence is needed to make a substantial claim.