Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Rudd Radar

McDonald’s Plans to Promote only Healthy Happy Meal Beverages

September 26, 2013

McDonald’s announced today that it will only promote water, milk and juice as the beverages that come with its Happy Meals.  Soda will still be available with the meals but parents would need to request it. The chain also promised to place nutritional messages on Happy Meal packaging and advertising.

In partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, McDonald’s also announced that it will start offering vegetables, fruit and side salads as substitutes for french fries in its value meals.

“The move to only promote healthy beverage options for Happy Meals is a step in the right direction,” said Rudd Center Director, Marlene Schwartz, PhD.  “Research shows that sugary drinks are a major contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. By only promoting water, milk and juice in Happy Meals, McDonald’s is making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

“In the past year, McDonald’s has made substantial improvements to the nutritional quality of its Happy Meals by reducing the portion size of fries and automatically including apples, and now promoting only healthier beverage options,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives. “We encourage the company to make the same healthy changes to its Mighty Kids’ Meals. Our research shows that over 40% of 6- to 11-year-olds get a Mighty Kids’ Meal at McDonald’s instead of a Happy Meal, and all kids’ meal choices at McDonald’s should promote healthier options.”

McDonald's plans to make the changes to its menu in 20 of the company’s largest markets by 2020.