McDonald’s changes the children’s menu to make it healthier

The company withdraws products with a high content of calories and saturated fats from the poster of its ‘Happy Meal’ in the United States.

McDonald’s announced Thursday that it will recall two products from its children’s menu to promote healthy lifestyle habits. Starting in June, the Happy Meal will not include either the cheeseburger or the chocolate shake, in an effort to reduce the number of calories, sodium content, added sugars and saturated fats, the company said in a statement. Despite this initiative, both products will remain available at the request of parents. By 2022, the food giant has set itself the goal for at least half of its menus for the smallest have less than 600 calories. At the moment, these changes will only apply in restaurants in the United States.

Among the health measures for children, McDonald’s also adds the decrease in the amount of chips that it supplies with its menu; It will no longer be the usual small option but a size adapted to children. According to the company’s calculations, the update of the Happy Meal will suppose, at most, a reduction of 20% in calories, 50% in added sugars and 13% in saturated fats, according to what options the client chooses.

The number of obese children is multiplied by 10 in four decades and 47% of people in Madrid are overweight or obese.

In 2013, the company already removed soft drinks from the menu panel, as one of the first “impact” measures in the promotion of a healthy diet. Since then, according to data from McDonald’s, the sale of Happy Meal with water, milk or juice has risen by 14%. In December of 2017, more than half of US customers chose one of these drinks, instead of deciding on a soft drink. “The announcement this Thursday is very important,” said Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization that promotes healthy living habits. “We have set the bar very high and I hope that other companies in the industry will follow in our footsteps,” said Wechsler.

In addition to the changes proposed in the Happy Meal, McDonald’s has advanced its long-term goals. The company intends that in 2022 at least half of the advertised children’s menus contain less than 600 calories. Of these, only 10% will come from saturated fats and another percentage of added sugars. Currently, only 28% of children menu’s, which the company offers in 20 countries that sell the most (including Spain), meet these criteria. The hamburger chain is also committed to eliminating artificial flavors, added dyes and preservatives. This measure was already applied in 2016 to chicken nuggets in restaurants in the US, France, and Canada.

According to the latest data released by the World Health Organization (in October 2017), more than 340 million children between the ages of five and 19 were overweight or obese around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control of the United States (CDC, for its acronym in English), 17% of American children (between 2 and 19 years) are obese, although the rate exceeds 20% among adolescents ( between 12 and 19). In Spain, this rate is 18%, one of the highest in Europe, as it has reflected in their studies done by Mercedes Rizo from the University of Alicante. According to the WHO, children with childhood obesity have a higher probability of premature death and disability in adulthood. In addition, these kids suffer from breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension and develop cardiovascular diseases.

McDonald’s has been trying for years to separate its products from obesity with the introduction of healthier products such as the McVegan hamburger, the vegan equivalent of its flagship product, the Big Mac. The company earned 4.178 billion euros in 2017, almost 11% more than past year. Every day 69 million people visit one of its almost 70,000 restaurants around the world.


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