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(CNN) --

In a decision nearly five years in the making, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided that yogurts can now make a limited claim that the food can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the agency concluded. federal agency this Friday.

The decision marks the first qualified health declaration the federal agency has issued for yogurt.

Qualified health claims "are supported by scientific evidence, but do not meet the more rigorous standard of 'significant scientific agreement' required for an authorized health claim," according to the FDA.

"To ensure that these claims are not misleading, they should be accompanied by a disclaimer or other qualifying text to accurately communicate to consumers the level of scientific evidence supporting the claim."

In the case of yogurt, the claim says that, based on limited scientific evidence, "eating yogurt regularly, at least 2 cups (3 servings) per week," can reduce the risk of the disease that affects about 38 million people in the US and approximately 462 million people worldwide.

Yogurt can be a nutrient-rich addition to a healthy diet.

Basak Gurbuz Derma/Momento RF/Getty Images

The serving size recommendation is supported by the FDA's conclusion that, based on two prospective cohorts evaluated in high-quality studies, the specific amount is the minimum necessary to achieve the claimed effect.


Made from milk fermented with bacteria or probiotics Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, yogurt is rich in calcium, protein, B vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

The move comes in response to a 2018 petition filed by food and beverage company Danone North America.

The filing launched an FDA review of existing research on links between yogurt and type 2 diabetes, according to a news release.

"The petition to allow a health claim related to type 2 diabetes to appear on yogurt labels followed the appropriate steps and included peer-reviewed research to support its petition," said Caroline Passerrello, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, via email.

But in addition to the supporting research being limited, it also isn't "very solid," Passerrello added.

"The way the study was done means we can't say with certainty that there is a causal relationship, but rather a correlation between type 2 diabetes and yogurt."

CNN has contacted the FDA for comment.

The FDA has allowed qualified health claims for dietary supplements since 2000 and for foods since 2002, but they are rarely advertised.

In the last decade, only 10 foods with such claims were allowed to be sold, including flavanol-rich cocoa powder to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain blueberry products to reduce the chances of recurrent urinary tract infections among women. .

Dr. Marion Nestle, a nutritionist and molecular biologist, echoed Passerrello's sentiments, adding that “qualified health claims are ridiculous on their face.”

“Why would any sensible person think that all you have to do to prevent type 2 diabetes is eat 2 cups of yogurt a week?”

said Nestlé, Paulette Goddard Professor Emeritus of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, via email.

"The only thing we can hope for is that the yogurt is at least unsweetened, but since it's very difficult to find unsweetened yogurt, this tells people who want to avoid type 2 diabetes that sweetened yogurts are good for them."

"According to the FDA's review of the studies, the amount of sugar in yogurt did not influence the results," Nestlé added.

"Therefore, according to the FDA, sugar is not a problem."

Any yogurt can make this limited claim as long as it uses the exact wording specified by the FDA, Nestlé added.

High consumption of added sugar has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in multiple studies.

Adding to the doubts of the statement is the reality that the cause of type 2 diabetes is multifactorial, so, although yogurt can be part of a healthy diet to maintain weight, "expect that yogurt alone is causally associated with diabetes prevention.

"It doesn't make sense outside the context of the diet as a whole," Nestlé said.

In this context, when evaluating the health claims of products to make the best decisions for your diet and health condition, it is essential to use "common sense", Nestlé added.

Previous research has suggested limiting added sugar consumption to less than 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons, per day.

That's equivalent to about 2 ½ chocolate chip cookies, 16 ounces of fruit punch, or about 1 ½ tablespoons of honey.

Nutritionist and writer Lisa Drayer contributed to this report.