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Happy Meal gets a makeover
July 26th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

Happy Meal gets a makeover

McDonald’s Happy Meals are getting their fat and calories trimmed, the fast food giant announced Tuesday.

The seemingly ubiquitous Happy Meals that have drawn the ire of health advocates and have been blamed for contributing to childhood obesity, will carry apple slices, reduced portion of french fries and a choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk.

The core of the Happy Meal will remain the same as kids will still get fries (a smaller portion) and a choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken nuggets.   All beverages, including milk, fruit juice, water and soda, continue to be options for the Happy Meal.

The changes are scheduled to begin September with the hopes that all 14,000 restaurants will transition to the new Happy Meals by the first quarter of 2012.

The suggested retail price of the Happy Meal will not change, remaining between $2.99 and $3.49.

“By adding fruit in every Happy Meal, McDonald’s hopes to address a challenge children face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce,” according to the corporation’s statement.

The new Happy Meal with four pieces of McNuggets, apple slices, smaller French Fries and 1% milk has 410 calories, 19 grams of fat and 560 milligrams of sodium.

The makeover of the Happy Meal comes after cities and counties began considering Happy Meal toy bans over concerns about nutritional quality and marketing towards children. Happy Meal toys have been banned in San Francisco, and a New York council member  has proposed a similar measure this year.

Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, said McDonald’s had to change its nutritional content because of political and community pressures.

“I see this as a positive development,” he said.  “The companies have recognized the pressures from the public, the community and parents to offer healthier choices for children.  They’ve begun to respond.   There have been criticisms of what they serve children for many years. In the past years, the pressure has intensified, the White House concern about childhood obesity is one source of that pressure.”

First lady Michelle Obama who has spearheaded a public health campaign to prevent childhood obesity commended McDonald's for making "progress today by providing more fruit and reducing the calories in its Happy Meals.  I've always said that everyone has a role to play in making America healthier, and these are positive steps toward the goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity."

McDonald’s promised continuing changes to the nutrition in its meals.

“McDonald’s has been engaging suppliers, government and non-government organizations to determine ways it could play a role in helping society address today’s obesity concerns,”  the company’s press release said.  “McDonald’s will develop additional fruit and vegetable choices and expects them to roll out over the next few years.”

The apples were not very popular in Happy Meals - only 11% of all kid's meal purchases included the fruit option.  Many customers were not aware of apples as an option, according to the company. They will become a default item on the children’s meal.

The fast food giant also pledged to reduce sodium 15% across the board in its menu by 2015.  It recently reduced sodium by 10% in most of its chicken offerings, including the Chicken McNuggets.

McDonald’s also vowed to reduce added sugars, saturated fat and calories through varied portion sizes, reformulations and innovations by 2020.

Brownell said he hoped that reduced sodium and apples in the menu would not give parents “permission to go to McDonalds more than they did before. That’s not a good development.”

It’s a good first step, but doesn’t solve the problem, according to a statement from Corporate Accountability International, which is a frequent critic of McDonald’s.  It released a statement saying that McDonald’s “deserves credit for not only taking these steps, but for acknowledging its role in today’s epidemic of diet-related disease in so doing.”

“McDonald’s is taking steps in the right direction, but we should be careful in heaping praise on corporations for simply reducing the scope of the problem they continue to create,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International.  “Ultimately corporate responsibility is not about securing public relations for cleaning up your own mess, but for not creating the problem in the first place. In this case, that means stopping the marketing of junk food to kids.”

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soundoff (632 Responses)
  1. kcsenecal

    How about this? Don't feed your child Mcdonalds. You are the parent you have say so over what your kids eat. Quit blaming the companies for your failed existences and poor parenting.

    July 26, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sweetpadme

      Agreed!!

      July 26, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jim Charley

      I love you kcsenecal

      July 26, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
    • anne

      How dare you use logic! Don't you realize that the parents have no control over their children and everyone else is to blame for their children being fat/stupid/lazy/hyper/crazy/[medical fad of the week]!!!!

      It's time parents step up and be accountable for their children – I was raised to make smart food choices and not allowed to eat junk. Eating at McDonalds was a very rare treat – and no amount of whining would get me that treat. Any parent who feels they "have" to let their kids have it needs to realize the adult is the one with a bank account, car keys and ability to go and order the food. As my mother once put it "you want to eat that stuff for dinner every night? Get a job and get it yourself."

      July 26, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Cat

      Amen! Okay American...let's try actually parenting our kids! On your mark, get set, go!

      July 26, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      When I was growing up, getting McDonald's was a huge treat, which is what it should be – not a regular thing.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Hope's Ghost

      what? parent's can do that? surely you jest! I thought it was the gov't's job to babysit our kids for us?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Drome

      There is no solution which can hope to dissolve the stains of this ketchup and cola world. Warmed can of cat food with parsley in every child's feed bag at dinner time. Cool breeze and the aroma of nuts.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Chris M

      Here, Here. I can tell my child no just fine. We of course watch what our child eats and when he gets to eat at Mickey D's, it's a treat and we let him have fun. Child obesity is not the fault of fast food, but the parents and home. Are we going to target grocery stores next? They too sell unhealthy food.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • ageejessica

      exactly!!

      July 26, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Bones

      Sure, everybody needs to make better choices for their kids.

      But would you PLEASE tell me what's so very wrong with reducing the calories in a Happy Meal, for when you, as the perfect parent, decide to let your child have that "rare treat?"

      I mean, why are you against that? Why are you saying, "My kids only get Happy Meals once or twice a year, but BY GOD when they get them, I want them to have the absolute maximum amount of fat, sodium, sugar and calories possible?" Does this make sense to anyone?

      No laws have been passed here. The NANNY STATE ™ hasn't been invoked. A corporation, tired of getting the stink-eye from people who are aware of how terrible their food is, has decided to dial it back a little. And for those kids in poor areas where garbage like McDonald's is just about the only option (and/or whose parents are just stupid, which is not the children's fault), maybe they won't be AS obese or AS sick by 18 as they would have been otherwise. Even a tiny step in the right direction is still a step.

      Hey, if you're truly bent on making sure your perfect little child-thing's Rare Happy Meal Treat ™ is as packed with calories as physically possible, stop asking others to make parental decisions for you and BUY TWO HAPPY MEALS for the little bugger. Problem solved.

      Gad, what's everybody so butthurt about?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • jenn

      agreed. I ate happy meals when little, but rarely and I'm not fat nor was I ever. It's fine every once in a while. Kids are getting fat on it because of lazy parents that don't want to cook anymore.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Max

      So true. If your excuses involve:
      a) I'm too busy to cook
      b) I can't afford a healthy meal

      THEN DO US ALL A FAVOR AND DON'T HAVE KIDS. Theres enough over population, last thing we need are more fat, dumb, slobs in this country

      July 26, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @ Mr. Bones

      “My kids only get Happy Meals once or twice a year, but BY GOD when they get them, I want them to have the absolute maximum amount of fat, sodium, sugar and calories possible?”

      Not a single comment made this argument. The point clearly made is, parents need to take responsibility when it comes to raising their children. Period. Stop blaming McDonalds, video game designers and schools. They are YOUR children.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • snow

      What? Parents have a choice in how Kids are reared? I thought the accepted norm in this country is that you let the kids do what they want.. or else, you stifle their growth. I thought the gov't wants us to never scold a kid, never stop them from doing what they want, impose rules or their sensitive psychology will crack – but never try to enforce them at home. If they don't ever listen, its the parents mistake!

      For the person who is going to reply saying "I suppose you want to beat your kid black and blue when they break rules", I say, there is a balance. Fear keeps kids in line. Fear of a slap stops him from doing something bad. But when a kid gets an actual slap, its effect all but diminishes.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • dadda321

      As stated prior parents do your job as parents and say no...you do have that ability and moral obligation to do so. Second, maybe the regular meals need to include apple slices and reduce the amount of fries. If you parents want McDonalds to make a change you must as well, SET THE EXAMPLE MOM AND DAD.!!!!! Better yet take the fires out of the BIG MAC meal too, replace them with apples too, don't stop keep going down the menu. Make sure BK, Wendy's, Taco bell ... all do the same as well.
      This is just about being lazy period, lazy parents who are to afraid to say no. Yes I am a parent and yes I endured the crying, fits and so on. But you know what my son learned quickly that having a fit when I said no did not get him what he wanted.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • badskippy

      agreed!! everyone wants to blame the company but it's the PARENTS! but you hear all the time, "I don't have time to cook and Mc Donald's is easy". i will gladly tell you that i am overweight, and guess what – I DONT EAT AT MCDONALDS. i am overweight because i eat too much and don't exercise – it's the same with kids. kids are allowed to sit in front of the TV or the computer, and do NOTHING. then their parents who "dont have time" (so why did they have the kids in the first place) feed them fast food because the parents can't be bothered.

      if you gave parents all the options in the world, but they let the kids choose, no kid is going to choose milk and apples when they can get Soda and Fries!

      July 26, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      That would make sense but unfortunatly people in this country cant seem to go about their day without pointing their finger at someone else. My 9 year old daughter is getting a little chunky, it might be because she hasn't had her growth spurt yet or maybe its just the age. Its not because I feed her mcdonalds every night for dinner. Could she sit down and eat a double quarter pounder with cheese? Yes. Will I allow her to? No. Wow. That was tough. Shame on you mcdonalds for putting that extra roll on my daughters stomach. I demand portion reduction and less sodium or my kids arent eating happy meals 3x a day anymore.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • dadda321

      Better yet, try cooking with your kids at home on our day off, my son enjoys helping me cook he has since he was about 8. It is an opportunity to communicate and bond. As well you can prepare meals for several day s in advance, freeze them and they can be re-heated in the microwave. Do you know how much money you can save this way, on average about $38.00 a week. Do the math that's about $1824.00 per year,money in the bank for your child's education, a car, or for you and your spouse to do with as you please.
      So give it a try America!!

      July 26, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Bones

      @Sean

      But people are really dead-set against this. Look at the comments. They're *angry* that this corporation is changing its practices (no legislation was passed, by the way, so Obama has nothing to do with this). Maybe these people WANT to poison children in disadvantaged areas, I don't know.

      Once again, we fight for stupid, meaningless freedoms while ignoring the big issues. The freedom to have your kid get more fries and not be exposed to apples? Oh, we'll DIE for that one. The freedom to not have your phone tapped for no reason whatsoever? Well, we gotta let that one slide...NINE 'LEVEN TERR'ISTS ™, ya know.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  2. ktspecial

    yum...pesticide ridden apple slices to go along with the "meat." I agree with kc, stop going to McDonalds and be a parent for once.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lewax00

      You mean don't shift the blame on to someone else? That's not very American.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • BS

      Peeled apples are in no way "pesticide ridden". Promote your agenda with facts, not lies.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • dadda321

      @ LEWAX that has become the American way...just listen to our elected officials.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • ktspecial

      true. my bad. chemicals cant seep through the peels. I'm so dumb...

      July 26, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  3. someoneelse

    McDonald's have been around forever. It doesn't need to change. Parents need to change. More importantly, anyone think they are making the fries portion smaller for health reasons...

    July 26, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FauxNews

      For sure, lowering their production cost was never on their mind. Now... "Do you want cheese on those fries?"

      July 26, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Why would any responsible parent ever take their child to this swill hole for any reason? Apple slices aside, there's nothing in this place that even remotely resembles real food. I wouldn't take a d*mp at a McDonald's, never mind eat that disgusting garbage they pass off as food. Certainly, there must be better places to take children, even for a "treat".

      July 26, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • BS

      Frankly, McDonalds needs to do whatever makes the most sense to run their business. Businesses that say "we've done it this way forever, so we don't need to change" tend to fail.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • BS

      Their fries are made with potatoes and oil (like any fries). Their hamburgers are made with beef with no fillers. How does this not resemble real food? Is the lettuce in their salads also fake? Fake milk? Fake juice? Fake tomatoes?

      July 26, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
    • The Real Nick

      BS: if you don't understand why I would say that McDonald's isn't real food, you need to take some courses in nutrition and go to a few nice restaurants. Then, you'll know what I mean.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • Gregg

      Nick: your dump may very well be what people are eating at McDonald's, or at least the dumps of those using the restrooms there. That's what the hamburgers taste like, anyway.

      July 26, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse |
  4. thatgirl153

    how much sugar is in that fat free chocolate milk?

    July 26, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aubrie

      Good question... And given the option, I wonder what percentage of children would actually choose the white milk.....

      July 26, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • cow

      enough to not make a difference in a human beings life because its chocolate freakin milk

      July 26, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @Aubrie

      Good question indeed. And that is the crux of the problem. The PARENTS should be making the choices, not the children.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa

    agree as well - 19 grams of fat and over 500 mgs of sodium????!! – how is this good for your child? But you know that people will continue to feed their kids this crap – and why is childhood obesity not child abuse?

    July 26, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rawrrawr

      a pickle spear has about 200mg of sodium. ill be sure to call dyfus the next time i see a kid eating a pickle...

      July 26, 2011 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
  6. ParentoftheYear

    All you faux-hippies zip it.......go pretend at your local Whole Foods with all your friends, drinking wheat grass shots.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Just sayin'

      Thank You! I live in Austin and I can't stand it.. Tip: Don't move here!

      July 26, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • surfsouthbay

      haha, not sure i totally agree with you but enough to get a good chuckle. san fran (the destination for hippie wanabees around the globe) banning happy meals is the biggest croc of bs ive ever heard. they have way more problems with the kids growing up there than eating a few burgers. also, isnt there entire motto up there that everyone needs to be open and accepting to everything? i guess its everything but happy meals?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • cow

      whats the difference between a faux-hippie and a regular hippie? and is it worse to be a regular hippie or a faux-hippie?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
  7. lerxt

    Sorry, but what the heck is "white milk"? It's just plain milk! Can I call chocolate milk "brown milk" as well?

    Anyway, I think that McD's is making changes to beef up their nutritional values. Swapping out a few fries lowers fat and salt while raising various nutrients from the apple. I'm not sure where the calorie count ends up at, but if it's the same, the fat content will look a lower. That's if the child eats the apples...

    July 26, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Janie paynie

      You really don't know what "white" milk is? It's white. I do however, appreciate your lame attempt to make the statement that you are so racially unbiased that you never even noticed the color of milk. What does the snow look like in your world?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @Janie paynie

      What color is your soap box? In our world snow is snow.
      As in: there is snow on the ground.
      Not: there is white snow on the ground.
      Exceptions to this are when the object is of an unnatural or rarely seen color.
      As in: I’d love to hit you in the face with a yellow snowball.

      This would be the case as milk is naturally white or cream colored. If you milk a cow or goat and get ‘brown milk’ I highly suggest you not drink it.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
  8. sam

    "four pieces of mcnuggets" haha. they treat mcnuggets as a mass noun instead of a count noun. not sure if that's just questionable grammar or a slight dig at the quality of mcdonalds food.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ParentoftheYear

      Where is the McNugget located on the chicken

      July 26, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  9. BB

    MY kids eat Mickey D's twice a week and they are both fit and trim, healthy 6 and 5 year olds. They swim everyday, play outside, ride bikes....what they dont so is sit inside and play video games and watch TV. Point is, Mickey D's isnt to blame, its the parents that dont make their children do anything productive because they are too lazy to be parents. Somehow the Liberals have taken over this Country and I am so sick of it.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aubrie

      And what about the parents that are to lazy to cook a nutritious meal TWICE a week????? I think that laziness needs to be addressed as well.....

      July 26, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • bmk23

      Riddle me how bad parenting has anything to do with politics? Get over it.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • bmk23

      PS twice a week is still ridiculous. Did you not just read how unhealthy this is? Just because your kids are "trim" doesn't mean they are totally healthy. And you are just perpetuating bad habits.. when they leave home what if they continue to eat like that but don't have you around to encourage physical activity? Eating healthy is step one.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • ratlady73

      Twice a week? Really? Wow... Do you not like your children? Junk food is called "junk food" for a reason. And that's what you're feeding your kids...

      July 26, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
  10. Conky2012

    Rofl. Anyone who buys their kid a happy meal, does not value their childrens health. Only people who do not care about their health eat fast food. You can prepare a homecooked meal for the same price. People being too stupid or lazy to learn how to cook does not justify buying fast food. If you "have" to eat their, then you are a very weak person. I hope I am never a slave to something as silly as greasy food. Some people really are piggys.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      Discipline and moderation is what I practice. I watch my diet and count calories. Without the occasional burger and fries, I think I would go insane.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  11. surfsouthbay

    Oh brother, im so sick of hearing how bad mcdonalds is. i eat it every once in a while and im positive i am in much better shape than most people. if people would just eat things in moderation and quit pointing the finger at everyone else for why they are fat and too lazy to excersice there would be no problem.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • acami

      I agree 100%. Everything in moderation and there's no problem.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • hmm

      everthing in moderation, eh? alittle heroin, vodka and vicodin...okay in moderation–right!

      July 26, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @hmm

      The collective of three different drugs at a single time would in fact NOT be moderation. Thank you, next.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
  12. hmmm

    Children sizes are what adult sizes were 25 years ago. That's more the problem than the quality or lack thereof. Big Macs used to be the be-all and end-all of big burgers, now they look pathetic, yet I don't think they've gotten smaller. Our eyeballs have gotten bigger because the standard dinner plate in a restaraunt is now an 11" or 12" plate vs. a 9" or 10" plate (now "salad plates").

    Applebees, Chilis, TGI Fridays are all equally bad offenders when it comes to low nutrition, high fat, high sugar foods. (And worse is that many of their "low fat" meals make up with really high sugar amounts). McDonald's is the poster child for a variety of reasons, and rightfully so. But, we need to keep in mind it is _just_ the poster child. Nearly every chain is a nutritional train wreck.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      What you said is very true. The Center for Science in the Public Interest uses the amount of fat in a Big Mac as their unit of measure. A large tub of popcorn with "butter" has something like the same amount of fat as in 12 Big Macs.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • cow

      adults were 75lbs 25 years ago? evolution sure is fast

      July 26, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Here we go again with blaming everyone but yourself. The fact is YOU are the only person responsibly for your diet. You have just as much of a choice to staying home and eat lettuce as you do going to a restaurant. Companies sell products. If you don’t like the product.. don’t buy it.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  13. Jovani

    It is actually faster to cook something at home, rather than going out. At McDonald s!!!

    July 26, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. ac92

    the daily show had a great segment discussing this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcqZ6sL5-4E

    July 26, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. j

    Strangely, I had an occasional happy meal as a child, as did many other people my age (late 20s, currently)

    Yet, most of us are in good shape. One of my buddies is a bit chubby, but nothing like the rampant obesity you see in kids today. Somehow, I don't think it's Ronald's fault.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Just sayin'

    I'm almost 30. I grew up eating McDonalds as a TREAT when I did something good. Parents need to step up and quit feeding their kids fast food EVERY DAY! They say it's cheaper. Really? Not quite. You know how much $20 will buy at a grocery store, compared to just ONE meal for a family of four at Mickey D's?

    July 26, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • surfsouthbay

      I totally agree. I got it as a treat growing up. I dont think there is anything wrong with it at all. the problem is parents that go there and take their kids there every day or every other day. that and slapping the kid in front of a tv all day.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • Just sayin'

      You have no idea how nice it felt on standardized test day to wake up a little earlier and stop by for a sausage biscuit and hashbrown on the way to school.. Twice a year I think, there's nothing wrong with that. Any other day would be shredded wheat, ugh.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Um, even as a treat, it wasn't much better than what I was getting at home anyway. Hamburger Helper, Kraft Mac n Cheese, TV dinners, meatloaf. Ugh.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  17. s

    II think both the happy meals and the happy moms need a make over by asking the kids to eat right.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Derek

    There was nothing wrong with how the happy meal was. The problem is you really shouldn't eat fast food more than once or twice a month.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Eva

    Why is there no salad option for kids? I think offering chicken nuggets, very small portion of fries, and *either* apples, *or* a side salad would be a good offering. The apples taste terrible - they literally taste bitter from pesticides, while the salads taste good. Also, more child-friendly diet sodas should be offered such as diet lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, and caffeine free diet cola since on a hot day a tiny bottle of milk will not provide proper hydration and not all kids willingly drink sufficient amounts of water.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • smart aleck

      Milk was a bad choice...

      July 26, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • aubrie

      You give your small children soda?? Diet soda? With artificial chemical sweetners??? And unsweetned "tea" that has more cafiene in it than coffee??? Really? Wow... and I thought the happy meal was bad.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • sno.abyss

      Diet soda, great idea! Now your children can be fat AND cancer-riddled! Now your free government handouts can pay for your hoverround to haul your fat butt around AND for your child's chemo! Idiot. I've never met a person that's lost weight by drinking diet soda anyway.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Please learn about nutrition. Why do you want to put chemicals into yourself OR your children?

      July 26, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      Soda has replaced water haven't you heard?! JK Seriously? Children shouldn't have any soda. I quit drinking that horrid stuff over 11 yrs ago and with in a week I lost 10 lbs and felt amazing! Couldn't imagine what that poison does to a devoloping child and not to meniton what it does to their teeth. Teaches them sugar drinks are OK! Even some fruit juices are bad! They are all sugar and no juice.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      I'm not going to say anything rude or be sarcastic. I just wanted to let you know that the carbonation in soda sucks calcium from your body and isn't a healthy drink for growing kids or adults for that matter.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      I agree with you about providing a salad as an option. The diet drink thing could be a bad idea, however, artificial sweeteners are way worse for children than a bit of sugar.

      July 26, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  20. j

    If you want to get serious on child obesity ... or obesity in general, you need to look at what has changed since previous generations. The answer is simple: corn. Or rather, corn derivatives like "high fructose corn syrup"

    I could ramble on this for a while, but I'll try to be brief: 100 years ago, America was heavily into agriculture. As time moved on, we've shifted away from that. But the farmers of America started losing money, and those "heartland" types play well in Washington polls. So the brains at DC decided to subsidize the ever loving H*LL out of corn. For some reason, corn is just one thing that America can grow better than any other country out there. So every farmer that couldn't make money on whatever crops they had going before, switched to growing corn.

    Now we have an absurd overstock of corn, and corn byproducts. The most common and infamous of which, the aforementioned High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is a primary (but hardly the only) contributing factor to obesity in America today.

    Thank you for your time.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. keith

    They shouldn't have to change their meals to appeas to the crowd of people who are upset their kids are getting fat. Those parents need to take some responsibility and not feed it to them....plain and simple. If I am trying to lose weight and I eat at McDonalds, then I'm gonna cut that meal out of the mix, I'm not going to expect McDonalds to change the burger to make it more healthy. Geeez people understand what it means to be a parent and make the right choices for your kid!! It's not that hard....if you can't then you shouldn't have been a parent. So what if your kid whines for a burger, tell them NO. Most adults today were told NO plenty of times by their parents when they wanted something, so it shouldn't be very hard for you to to the same thing

    July 26, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      The way things SHOULD BE and the way things ARE are two totally different things. Way to deny reality.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      @D

      So you are saying that Keith is out of touch with reality because he believes you should cut fast food out of your diet to lose weight? Or is it the part where he suggests parents actually live up to their responsibility and raise their children instead of expecting the rest of the world to do it for you?

      That pretty much puts you right at the center of why things ARE instead of what they SHOULD BE… now doesn’t it.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
  22. RunForTheHills

    Milk is not a healthy food. It is full of sugar even if it is stripped of its fat. It is not necessary to drink milk after infancy.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      McDonald's should think about offering a no-additional-sugar-added fruit juice as an option. Still not ideal, I know.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • cow

      so what are they supposed to drink then einstein? vegetable juice? Oh wait, that is loaded with sugars too. I guess its nutritious water for the kids and osteoporosis for the teens.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Evidence, please.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I was just thinking how Dunkin Donuts should make a veggy donut. I mean.. I could just eat a carrot or maybe an orange. But I want a donut… and its their job to provide me with a healthy balanced diet. .. right?

      July 26, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  23. Scott

    Is tihs new? I thought they'd been offering milk and apple slices for a few years now? Or maybe it was BK?

    July 26, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Just sayin'

      Now they want to include apples and milk in ALL happy meals, and a SMALLER portion of fries... not a choice between apples/fries, or milk/soda

      July 26, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
  24. Jay

    It is not McDonald's fault that kids are fatties. Its the lazy, ignorant parents that continue to feed it to their kids.
    While I commend the decision to add some fruit to the happy meal, if you were smart enough to READ the article, you would know that the fruit was already there. Parents just weren't choosing it.
    How that is McDonald's fault is beyond me

    July 26, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      In the article, it said many of the parents didn't even know it was an option. I have certainly never seen any ad campaigns featuring the fruit for kids.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  25. surfsouthbay

    The thing is, EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE! no one is forcing people to go to McDonalds! if you dont like the food dont go. there will always be bad things in the world...they come in every shape and form. its your responsibility to make good decisions. then when you have children pass those good decisions down to them. we dont need to change McDonalds into Whole Foods to make things work.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Woody20

    ??? I've seen these options available in Happy Meals for the past 3 yrs? How is this new?

    July 26, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Just sayin'

      Apples and milk will be in ALL happy meals... fries will be there too, but a smaller portion

      July 26, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  27. MrATC2u

    Although this is not a political debate, oh wait it is. What makes it a political debate is all you who have re-elected those that have moved into raising your children for you. It is time folks to clean out Washington. Grab your household back and control your children. The reason our kids are like they are is because you can't be a parent without some form of government being involved. Oh, and as far as MD's goes.... Get your fat, lazy, unappreciative kids off the computer and x-box and get them outside doing something constructive! That is all.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. blv

    Why do parents even feed their kids this cr@p??? Shame on you! Don't be so lazy and ensure your children are getting the healthy nutrition they need and the knowledge to make intelligent choices for their future.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Joe

    Take them to Wendy's instead. The food is real,tastes better and is healthier. Their salads are great!

    July 26, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. mjb

    Low calorie, low fat? That won't solve anything.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Renee B

    If Michelle Obama were really concerned with childhood obesity, perhaps she should look for a solution in her backyard. More specifically the food stamp program. Currently the government is getting stricter with schools who rely heavily on government backed funding for school lunches regarding nutrition content. The government also offers the WIC program which provides vouchers for healthy items such as milk, beans, healthy cereals, fruit juice (NOT sugar water) and more. Why not do the same with food stamps? Who has seen people buying high fat/sodium/calorie laden products with an Access card? Who has seen people buying chips, cookies, candy, soda with an Access card? Why not copy the WIC program's success at offering healthy food choices by sending people vouchers to be redeemed for fruits, vegetables, healthy cereal/grains, meat, dairy based upon household size and food serving guidelines? Approximately 43 million people are using the food stamp program to provide for themselves and their families. Why not use the program the way it was intended – to feed and nourish people who are down on their luck? Bring on the vouchers!

    July 26, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sno.abyss

      This is my sentiments exactly. I got a part-time job at a grocery store for some extra spending money, and the number of fatties I see with $800+ food stamp cards buying hot pockets, pizzas, giant bags of candy, and soda(of course it's usually diet soda haha) is just appalling. Especially when most of them have small children that look like they weigh more than me.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      I agree 110%... it makes no sense to me either!! That also includes energy drinks!! Just rediculous how people choose to spend that money, especially if you have kids!!

      July 26, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  32. trish

    Hey guys, will you visit HelpFaye.ORG a friend of mine is fighting for her life... Thank you

    July 26, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. whyisthisbetter

    Um, why is this an improvement? On the rare occasions my kids go to mcdonald's, they get apples, not fries. Now they automatically get both??? This is not BETTER!

    July 26, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bethany

    Um. I've eaten McDonalds a LOT and I'm on the low end of what weight I should. My doctor also said I was very healthy. So I HIGHLY doubt McDonalds is to blame for overweight children or any health problems that are really that serious. Unless you happen to be eating it like Morgan Spurlock...in which case, you're an idiot.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Susan

      Just because you have suffered no ill side effects from eating at McDonald's "a lot" doesn't mean that everyone will have the same results. Also, most annual physical exams render only superficial results as to a patient's health, so your doctor declaring you "healthy" doesn't mean much. You don't give your age, but if you are young and tend to be underweight, chances are that you will be obese as you reach middle age if you don't adopt good eating habits. Young people, especially young women, who are "underweight" on a diet of fatty, high calorie food often suffer from low blood sugar. As they age, this condition reverses and becomes hyperglycemia, which results in obesity. Of course, I can't comment on your situation from the cursory information you provide (for example, perhaps you have a healthy diet most of the time and by "a lot" you mean that you eat at McDonald's no more than once a month), but things may not be as they seem to you. On the other hand, maybe your lucky and will always be thin and live a long life even on a bad diet. In either case, I don't think your anecdotal story is a case for making a habit out of eating at McDonald's on a regular basis.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Sorry for the typo...it should say "you're lucky" rather than "your lucky" on the third line from the bottom in my entry below.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      I couldn't agree more, Susan. I had a friend in high school who was 5'4" and 98lbs. She could eat anything and everything and not gain weight. She suffered from low blood sugar. I hated her because, even in those days, I had to watch what I ate. 30 years later, she's almost 200 lbs and is struggling to learn good eating habits. McDonald's was and is one of her favorite places to eat.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  35. Dan J

    The Happy Meal has been around, for over 30 years. Back then there were still toys, and the meals were a lot less healthy. Yet children weren't getting obese from them. Lazy parenting makes obese children. The answer isn't giving the government permission to think for us.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. smrtaz

    Some people need to go to McDonalds and order a super-sized cup of mindyourowndamnbusiness.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sno.abyss

      It is my business when my tax dollars are going towards paying for their obese children's diabetes supplies on their medicaid.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • smrtaz

      McDonald's is filled with more middle class "soccer mom" types more than anything. Those aren't the people that are taking your tax dollars. The whole "my tax dollars" excuse is lame. I make a good living for my family and myself. I pay taxes, and I want the government and other people to stay the heck out of my life when it comes to what I choose to eat. That being said, McDonald's really taste like crap.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  37. HoseaFourSix

    Apples are the number one fruit and vegetable to have the highest ammount of pesticide residue (an average of 57). No one should eat McDonalds. Everyone should eat healthy organic food so this culture and food economy changes.

    Parent's, stop working so hard to buy a boat or drive a BMW instead of a Toyota and pay more attention to your kids. BE a parent and provide for them, yes, that means cook for them. That way they don't get autism, cancer, heart disease, etc.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      I think parents are just exhausted from working and commuting lots of hours and trying to make ends meet. If people had a living wage then maybe they could afford the luxury of leisurely shopping trips and cooking from scratch.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • HoseaFourSix

      That's because the economy has pushed itself to this level. If mother's didn't work so much or plainly didn't work, they would actually have time to be a mother. You don't need 5 car payments with 4 people in the house.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  38. Tyler

    People these days are just dumb! The happy meal I grew up with should never change. My grandmother worked there for years while I was a kid and I always asked for one when she would pick me up (which I usually got). Today I am 19 yrs. old and weigh roughly 220lbs. Yea, I may be considered obese from just my age and weight, but with my parents making me do sports and be outside all of the time, my weight is plenty muscle. No matter how many happy meals you eat, as long as you exercise, you will not gain the wrong weight! People need to understand that!

    July 26, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Weight is not everything. Get some bloodwork done. Even kids and teenagers have high cholesterol these days.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  39. Ben

    This is more of a child welfare issue than it is a parenting issue.

    If children request (more like, beg for) McDonalds with only the intention of getting a tastey meal, then it is within THEIR interest that the corporation trim some of the fat, sugars, and oils that these 'mystery foods' are made with.

    That is because the parent will ultimately choose the cheapest alternative in most cases. McDonald's dollar menu is a VERY ATTRACTIVE option for parents that work full-time, are on strapped budgets and don't have time to cook. Therefore, the company needn't willfully advertise DIRECTLY to children, which is insidious in itself, and load their foods with every poor additive for taste that will keep them coming back for more.

    The parents of communities, again with strapped budgets, have taken a stand against obesity for those parents who know no better or can do no better.

    The corporation has responded and the people have won in a sense (even though the Happy Meal is still a god-awful meal choice).

    CHEER, don't bemoan, people! This is a GOOD thing.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Knowhere

    And all the people who are saying parents need to be parents are telling their kids to leave them alone they are busy (posting on CNN) or they are not working (posting on CNN). Oh please...get back to work or go play with your kids.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. how about home

    Ok, truth or dare...how many of you feed your kids healthier meals? Hmmm? You have a bbq, big hotdog, maybe two, potato salad, ships...All American meal, right? And LOTS of calories. Big roast beef dinner, lots of mashed potatoes, gravy, bread, meat...lots of calories too. More than 440! Get off of McDonald's A#$...it's not their fauly your kid is fat. Go outside with them and get in shape.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Charlie's Mommy

    This whole thing cracks me up! The reason they banned toys was because some parents were having issues with their kids wanting all the toys in each series. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!!!!! You can buy the toy seperate. The change in items is no biggie to me. My 3 (almost 4) year old NEVER finishes a Happy Meal anyway.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Laura

    BurgerKing should learn a lesson here. They offer healty options for their happy meal. However, you pay extra for each of those options.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      That is just wrong.

      July 26, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      D: why is that wrong? Burger King has the right to price their food as they please. If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Personally, I wouldn't be caught dead in either a Burger King or McDonald's.

      July 26, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
  44. VegasRage

    How about McDonalds just try being socially responsible for one and quit selling these fat house meals. OH wait their is no profit in that, thank God for irresponsible parents and their money, McDonalds is all too happy to cater to the irresponsible.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. tempemom

    I don't take younger kids to Mcdonalds anymore. They are older. All they want are the fries. Looking back on when they were younger, they would probably have chosen the fries, (juice or milk) and (veggie or fruit) for their Happy Meals. McDonalds french fires are the best in the world.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. BS

    I agree the obesity problem almost certainly starts and ends with parents. But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with McDonalds making their kids meal more healthy. If it's more healty, this means it can be a "treat" more frequently without adversely impacting a kid's health. McDonalds is just trying to change as the culture changes. If they don't, they will lose buisiness.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Rick

    Awesome, now the streets will be littered with discarded apple slices.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. BCat

    I have experienced an ever increasing IQ since I was a child. Last time I had it tested, it was 185 at the time I was graduating from college, but I'm sure it's got bigger since those times. My point being, I ate happy meals all the time when I was a kid. I know on behalf of many average people that this will make you mad, but just deal with it...my PhD. in Physics testifies to the results of what I ate.

    July 26, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Pete Holland

    ABOUT TIME!! Just surprised how SLOOOOOW the giant moves. It rather waits until it gets slapped in the face rather than being proactive and ahead of the curve and get a TON of good-will for being smart. Tells us their management are not the brightest bulbs in the box.The next step now would be to partner with some major gym franchises and similar as well as adding spirulina and other even healthier options in their smoothies....

    July 26, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Patrick

    As long as people eat dog food such as this there will be obese people in this country.... it is not rocket science to understand why...!!! Before the arrival of the dog food in Europe you could count the number of obese people in the street using only one hand during the whole day... now... unfortunately the dog food is all over – but not in my house -

    July 26, 2011 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.