The food manufacturer has announced results of a 14-day study conducted by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in Minneapolis. The researchers investigated the diets of approximately 3,000 women aged 19 and older and claim to have found a link between healthier body weight and better nutrient intakes among those who consume yogurt. The research found that those women who consumed three or more servings of yogurt over the two-week period had a 15 percent lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did not eat any yogurt. The initiative opens another health pathway along which yogurt can be marketed. The product is increasingly being proffered to consumers as delivery of friendly bacteria for gut and immune health, probiotics. Since Dannon launched its Activia line of probiotic yogurt in the US in January 2006, it claims to have sold over $100m-worth of the product. Now General Mill's findings point to further benefits that could allow for differentiated marketing tools based on the needs of a range of consumers. While Dannon underscores gut health, General Mills looks to be targeting weight management. "Obesity continues to be a leading health risk for Americans of all ages," said the research leader, Ann Albertson, senior nutrition scientist at the Bell Institute. "Our findings build on previous studies and offer good news for yogurt eaters." The US weight management market is said to be the world's single largest one and the figures have reached epidemic proportions. An estimated 66 percent of adults in the US are either overweight or obese, based on results from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The weight management potential of yogurt likely comes from the fact that while it can be high in calories, it is still a relatively healthy snack food that promotes satiety. The study found that the participants mainly eat yogurt at breakfast. Among the women who ate yogurt, 34 percent did so at breakfast, 38 percent at lunch, 19 percent did so as a snack and nine percent at dinner. The women who ate yogurt regularly were also more like to have higher overall intakes for nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, magnesium and phosphorous; "Yogurt is a food that's portable, portion controlled, nutrient rich, and easy to add to a meal or to enjoy as a snack," said Albertson. "It provides a good source of dairy calcium and other essential nutrients that women need for optimum health." Licensed from Sodima, a French dairy cooperative in 1978, Yoplait is now a $1bn business and the yogurt category leader.