Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said.
McDonald's regulars will see changes to the Happy Meal menu as early as June 2018, when 100 percent of the meal combinations offered on Happy Meal menu boards in the USA will be 600 calories or fewer, and 100 percent of those meal combinations will be compliant with the new nutrition criteria for added sugar, saturated fat, and 78 percent compliant with the new sodium criteria, the company announced on February 14. It is also cutting the size of fries in the larger 6-piece chicken-nugget Mighty Kids Meal, Reuters reported.
Wong noted the anti-obesity lobby will not be happy until kid-friendly meals are taken off menus entirely, "but most parents believe Happy Meals are a treat or bribe, and believe that as long as consumption is limited to special occasions, their child is not at risk". "If you're in a restaurant and your child smells french fries and sees the soda, it's very hard for kids to get the healthier choices", she said.
Cheeseburgers and chocolate milk are being deleted from McDonald's Happy Meal menus.
The changes are due to take effect in the United States by June.
"It's a good step in the right direction", said Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The move to make the meals healthier comes as the company is trying to make a Happy Meal come in at 600 calories or less by 2022, NPR reported.
With these planned menu updates, there will be average reductions of 20 percent in calories, 50 percent in added sugars, 13 percent in saturated fat and/or 17 percent in sodium, depending on the customer's specific meal selection.
The cheeseburger and chocolate milk didn't meet those new standards, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said. Bottled water is being added as a Happy Meal drink option. In December 2013, customers chose water, milk or juice as their beverage choice in 38 percent of Happy Meals and that number increased to 52 percent in December 2017.
With tweaks made over the years aimed at parents, the Happy Meal offerings have been veering toward the healthy side, including the addition of apple slices in 2004 and yogurt in 2012. Soda does not cost extra.
All Happy Meals advertised on USA menu boards will be 600 calories or less by June, McDonald's said in a statement Thursday.
Cheeseburgers and milkshakes will not be advertised as part of Happy Meal menus worldwideWhen will the new Happy Meals start?
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