For 30 years, they've wowed kids around the world with a small burger or McNuggets, an order of french fries and that cool toy, but at what cost to their health? "If you eat like that, like, all day, it could clog up all your blood-veins", says 9 year old Rub Gara.
Now, McDonald's Corp. says it is adding apple slices to every Happy Meal. Its part of the chain's larger push to paint itself as a healthy place to eat. "We are a company that cares about our customers", says Jan Fields, McDonalds USA President.
The world's largest burger chain is also pledging to reduce sugars, saturated fats and calories, and it says it will launch a new mobile phone app focused on nutrition information. Parents will also get to request low fat milk or chocolate milk instead of soda.
Anne Dunev, a nutritionist in Burbank and author of 'The Fat Fix Diet', gives the apples a high mark because they do not have an additives. "I think that's definitely a good step", says Dunev. As for the popular hamburger, Dunev says the meat's nutritive value is cooked out. She also says, if you get the chocolate milk instead of soda, you're not making the Happy Meal much healthier. "Artificial flavor, it's a liquid candy bar", says Dunev.
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Kristen Gara, a mother, says she's not convinced its good enough for her three children, aside from the very occasional treat. "I just think anything you get from that restaurant is not really great", says Gara.
McDonald's USA president will go on a "listening tour" in August to ask parents and nutrition experts how else the burger restaurant can support healthy lifestyle choices.
McDonald's has gained market share in the recession by introducing healthier foods like smoothies and oatmeal. It says the new directives are a response to what customers want, and are not related to impending regulations that will monitor how restaurants market food to children.