Lifestyle & Belief

McDonald's to sell a leaner Happy Meal (VIDEO)


Five-year-old Andy Villatoro plays with a toy he received after ordering a Happy Meal at McDonald's as his father Carlos Villatoro (R) watches on Nov. 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California.


David Paul Morris

McDonald's will reduce the French fry portion of its children's Happy Meals by more than half and add apples and and a choice of beverage, including fat-free chocolate milk and 1 percent low-fat white milk, it announced Tuesday.

The world's largest hamburger chain had come under pressure from consumer groups to provide healthier kids' food, with fewer calories, and less sugar and sodium, NBC reports.

Happy Meals had also been blamed for contributing to childhood obesity.

The Happy Meal makeover comes as several cities consider toy bans over concerns about nutritional quality and marketing towards children, CNN reports.

San Francisco last year became the first U.S. city to pass a law to control giving away free toys with unhealthy meals for children. The law requires that all restaurant kids' meals meet nutritional standards before they can be sold with toys.  

A New York council member has proposed a similar measure this year.

McDonald's said that it would make the change from September, with the new Happy Meals available in all of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants in 2012. The chain will also reduce sodium, added sugars, saturated fats and calories across its entire menu, it said.

An example of a new Happy Meal, with four pieces of McNuggets, apple slices, smaller French Fries and 1 percent white milk, has 410 calories, 19 grams of fat and 560 milligrams of sodium. All new Happy Meals will be under 600 calories, the company said, Reuters reports.

The suggested retail price will not change.

"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.

Toys will continue to be included in every Happy Meal.