McDonald’s has just announced plans to offer healthier side options on its value meals, and healthier beverage choices for its classic kids staple, the Happy Meal.
For the first time ever, the global fast food chain will be eliminating sodas from its Happy Meal menu, and instead will promote healthier alternatives like low fat milk, juice, or water. Fruit slices and salads will also now be featured as options alongside fries on the value menu.
While often criticized for peddling fatty foods to small children, McDonald’s has shown a steady, if gradual, willingness to introduce healthier items onto its menu. CEO Don Thompson called this latest change “an important step in our journey” to promote healthier options on their menu. In a move to quell the inevitable skepticism of consumer-health advocates, McDonald’s states that it will use its marketing muscle to “generate excitement” for the healthier menu options. Furthermore, they’re pledging that “100% of all advertising directed at children” will focus on promoting a fun, pro-health message.
McDonald’s announced the changes alongside the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to combat childhood obesity. Coca-Cola – which has been McDonald’s top soda supplier since 1955 – doesn’t seem to be fighting this potential cut to their bottom line. They recently announced their own global initiatives towards combating obesity, which include a refusal to market their sodas to children under 12.
McDonald’s has been making modest forays into healthier menu options in the past few years, but this is by far their most concerted effort yet. The food chain predicts that 30-50% of its major markets will implement the menu changes in three years, with 100% of the markets adopting them by 2020.