And the French fry sizes will be smaller. And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra. Cheeseburgers will drop off entirely. The chain has also promised to continue promoting fresh fruits and vegetables as a Happy Meal side, building on the success of its baby carrots and "Cutie" tangerines. But McDonald's and public health experts who have reviewed the chain's plans say they have the potential to incrementally improve the diets of millions of children.
The latest change is part of an ongoing "commitment with Alliance for a Healthier Generation" that began in 2013. And until the company completes reformulating its chocolate milk to reduce added sugar, chocolate milk will not be listed on the Happy Meal menu, but, again, customers can ask for it. But a Cheeseburger Happy Meal can be ordered upon request. On Thursday, McDonald's announced that it is planning to make Happy Meals more nutritious to market balanced kids meals around the globe.
McDonald's plans on reducing the calorie content of at least 50 per cent of its Happy Meals in 120 markets by the end of 2022. McDonald's also pledged to serve more fruits, vegetables and grains.
And just last November, McDonald's swapped out the apple juice in its Happy Meals, trading Minute Maid for a lower sugar, organic juice from the brand Just Kids.
Julia Braun said that customers are looking for options today they can feel good about eating.
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Other restaurants have also overhauled their kids' menus.
The American Heart Association called the move an "important step in the right direction" and urged McDonald's competitors to follow suit.
Four years ago McDonald's cut soda from the Happy Meal menu and orders for it with the children's meal fell 14 per cent.
Kenneth Wong, marketing professor at the Smith's School of Business at Queen's University, said it's not a coincidence that McDonald's is sprucing up the Happy Meal image now. In fact, this announcement coincides with another interesting development: Researchers at the Sorbonne in Paris report in a British Medical Journal article that eating fast food may increase your risk of cancer.
"We recognize the opportunity that we have to support families as one of the most visited restaurants in the world, and remain committed to elevating our food", said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's President and CEO.