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McDonald’s Announces Healthier Happy Meals

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McDonald’s has announced changes to its iconic Happy Meal brand, in an effort to provide healthier and more balanced options for families.  

In 2013, McDonald’s began working with not-for-profit Alliance for Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation) to develop a plan to increase consumer’s access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water at its restaurants. Now, McDonald’s is working with the organization in an effort to improve its Happy Meals. Planned changes to the Happy Meal include:

  • Providing balanced meals. The company hopes to make at least 50% or more of the meal to meet McDonald’s Global Happy Meal Nutrition Criteria, which requires meals to be 600 calories; 10 percent of calories from saturated fat; 650mg sodium and 10 percent of calories from added sugar. To accomplish this, McDonald’s plans to reformulate or remove menu offerings from the Happy Meal section of the menu board.
  • Simplifying ingredients. To keep up with consumers' tastes and preferences, McDonald’s plans to simplify ingredients in Happy Meals and remove artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources and reduce artificial preservatives where possible.  
  • Providing transparent nutritional information. Similar to providing simpler ingredients, McDonald’s plan to make its nutrition information easier to access and more available.

In order to achieve this goal, McDonald’s has highlighted specific changes that they will be making. To reach its goal, it plans to reformulate its chocolate milk to reduce the amount of added sugar and offer substitutes to soda like its Honest Kids Appley Ever After organic juice drink or water.

"From day one, Healthier Generation knew our work with McDonald's could influence broad scale improvements to meal options for kids everywhere," said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of Alliance for a Healthier Generation. "Today's announcement represents meaningful progress to impact kids' calories, saturated fat, sodium and added sugar in Happy Meal bundles as offered on menu boards - and to promote more water. This sets a high bar, and we hope other industry leaders will follow suit."