McDonald’s Revamping Nutritional Standards for Happy Meals

McDonald’s has removed cheeseburgers and reduced French fry servings in children’s offerings.

May 22, 2018

OAKBROOK, Ill. – McDonald’s Happy Meals are getting a makeover. Changes will take place as early as this summer and finish up in 2022, when 100% of the Happy Meal menu across 120 markets will be 600 calories or less and be compliant with new standards for less added sugar and saturated fat.

McDonald’s has committed to offer more balanced meals, simplify ingredients, increase transparency and responsibly market to children. It’s also analyzing customer uptake to determine if consumers are understanding the healthier changes.

It’s part of a long-term plan with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation that began in 2013. Commitments made early on included access to fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and water. McDonald’s also removed soda from menu boards.

Marketing plans include offering gentle prompts to choose healthier options, such as asking if you’d like to add fruit for a low price. The company has already seen “phenomenal results and uptake.” According to Food Navigator USA, “the company will encourage children to select healthier options when ordering Happy Meals by making a game in which children can scan the packaging of the more nutritious options and get extra energy for their characters in a virtual reality game.”

An article in the Detroit Free Press reported that Margo Wootan, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s vice president for nutrition said “McDonald’s has announced a welcome next step toward improving the nutritional profile of its Happy Meals. More chains should follow McDonald’s lead in improving kids meals. The easiest first step is to take soda and other sugary drinks off the kids menu. We’re encouraged that McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, IHOP, Dairy Queen, and Jack In the Box have already done so.”