Question of the Month: McDonald’s Makes Kids’ Menus Healthier—Are They Healthy Enough?

By IDEA Authors
May 17, 2018

A Happy Meals makeover is underway at McDonald’s. As of June, all Happy Meals in the U.S. will contain fewer than 600 calories. By 2022, they will have less than 650 milligrams of salt, and under 10% of calories will come from saturated fats and added sugars. Water is now the default beverage. Cheeseburgers are off the Happy Meal menu, while chicken nuggets and hamburgers are served with fruits, vegetables or a 110-calorie mini-side of fries.

These changes cleared the way for Disney to announce a new agreement with McDonald’s. More than 10 years ago, Disney adopted healthier food standards for kids and broke ties with McDonald’s in a spat over nutrition criteria. With McDonald’s efforts to shape up, expect to see “Incredibles 2” characters in a Happy Meal near you.

While some public health organizations have championed the menu changes, others have cautioned that while any progress is good, Happy Meals are far from ideal nutrition for children, and 600 calories are still too many for a child’s meal. Moreover, including children’s favorite characters as a “food reward” reinforces an emotional relationship with food and is inappropriate marketing to children.

What do you think? Is a healthier McDonald’s kids’ menu cause to celebrate? How would you improve Happy Meals? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts at
[email protected].

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