Warning to moms who like to sneak fries from their kid’s Happy Meals: there may no longer be enough to go around. Yesterday, McDonald’s announced it will be cutting the portion of fries by a little more than half and adding a serving of fruit to the popular kid’s meal.
Why? Responding to pressure from parents seeking healthier restaurant meals and efforts led by First Lady Michelle Obama to fight childhood obesity, these changes will help reduce the number of calories in the popular kid’s meal by as much as 20%.
Instead of the usual 2.4-ounce serving, Happy Meals will now come with just 1.1 ounces of fries. To make up the difference, apple slices will be automatically included, however, the caramel dipping sauce is being phased out. One thing that will remain the same: a toy will still come with every Happy Meal. Parents can also choose to low-fat milk or fat-free chocolate milk instead of soda.
McDonald’s is just one of several chain restaurants vowing to lighten up their kid’s menu. Last week, 19 restaurant chains, including Burger King, Chili’s, IHOP, and Friendly’s, pledged to promote healthier eating options by putting more lean protein, fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and low-fat dairy on their kid’s menus.
While McDonald’s has long offered parents the option to swap fruit for fries, a November Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity study found that only 11% of customers took advantage of that option. Now, there’s no choice – it’s part of the package, or in this case, the red box.
The new, lighter, Happy Meals will debut in September and be nationally available in the fast-food giant’s 14,000 restaurants by next April.
One trade off I anticipate as a result of these changes is that mom’s diets are certainly going to improve. Because really, who’s going to be stuck eating those apples once the kid’s have polished off that small(er) serving of fries?