McDonald’s Happy Meals about to get healthier

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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 U.S. 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 Feb. 14.

Changes include:

  • Listing only the following Hamburger, 4-piece and 6-piece Chicken McNuggets. The Cheeseburger will only be available at a customer’s request.
  • Replacing the small French fries with kids-sized fries in the 6-piece Chicken McNugget meal, which decreases the calories and sodium in the fries serving by half.
  • Reformulating chocolate milk to reduce the amount of added sugar. During this period, chocolate milk will no longer be listed on the Happy Meal menu, but will be available at a customer’s request.
  • Later this year, bottled water will be added as a featured beverage choice on Happy Meal menu boards.
  • In December 2017, McDonald’s USA completed the transition to Honest Kids Appley Ever After organic juice drink, which has 45 less calories and half the total sugar than the prior 100 percent apple juice served in the U.S.

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. These reductions reflect the average nutrition data of U.S. Happy Meal offerings on the menu last year compared to those planned for later this year.  Already, several of the Happy Meal combinations available on U.S. menu boards today meet the new nutrition criteria and will not be changing.

McDonald’s USA last announced changes of this magnitude in 2013 as part of its commitment with Healthier Generation, when removing soda from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards, which has resulted in a 14 percentage point increase in the number of Happy Meals ordered that include water, milk or juice as their beverage choice.  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. During that same period, the number of Happy Meals that included soda and other beverages decreased from 62 percent to 48 percent. For the first time, more than half of Happy Meals ordered in the U.S. have included water, milk or juice as their beverage of choice.

 “Happy Meal Readers” Book Program

The company is also using its “scale for good” to inspire a passion for reading and will continue to spread the joy of reading to more families.  Since 2001, the company and its franchisees have distributed more than 370 million books in Happy Meals. “Happy Meal Readers” continues to expand, and by 2019 children in more than 100 markets will be able to choose a book or toy year-round in their Happy Meals.