McDonald's plays 'hide the cheeseburger' in new Happy Meal health push


McDonald's this morning released the details of a five-year plan to restrict half of its Happy Meal offerings to platters with 600 calories or fewer with 10% of calories from saturated fat, 10% from added sugar and 650mg sodium.

Additionally, it wants less than 10% of the meal's calories to come from saturated fat and added sugar-which is why the company made a decision to ban cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its menus.

Reformulating chocolate milk to reduce the amount of added sugar.

The Oak Park, Ill. -based company said it also will explore adding new foods to Happy Meals, like the Junior Chicken, a grilled chicken sandwich McDonald's Italy introduced last month.

McDonald's is overhauling Happy Meals again - and kids who love the fast-food chain's cheeseburgers may be frowning. To hit or exceed its 50 percent goal, restaurants will have to add, change or remove items from the Happy Meal menu.

McDonald's is taking steps to make their meals a little bit healthier, and are effectively removing two staples from their Happy Meal menu to benefit the younger generation.

McDonald's is bowing to pressure from critics who say Happy Meals still have too many calories, even after the chain banished sodas, shrunk fry sizes, and gave kids apple slices.

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"The Happy Meal has always been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity". On Thursday, McDonald's announced that it is planning to make Happy Meals more nutritious to market balanced kids meals around the globe. In a report on the restaurant's sales in 13 countries, commissioned by the Alliance a year ago, public policy consulting firm Keybridge found that milk, water and juice sales at McDonald's had ticked up 9 percentage points between 2013 and 2016.

Julia Braun said that customers are looking for options today they can feel good about eating.

Others were also pleased.

The latest Happy Meals change will be implemented by June, the company added.

"McDonald's is faced with consumer demand for healthier kids' foods, but it's hard to convert junk foods to health foods in any meaningful way", said Marion Nestle, a professor of food studies and nutrition at New York University. Customers in the United States, however, will see those changes sooner than later.

Right now, only 28 percent of the Happy Meal combinations on menu boards in 20 major markets meet the new nutrition criteria.