Reducing Calories: McDonald’s to change its Happy Meal menu

McDonald’s will soon banish cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.

The aim of a set of new global menu goals for child customers, announced Thursday,is  to reduce calories, fat, sodium and added sugar from the ultimate fast food kid magnet.

The new targets are being established in the company’s 120 markets around the world including the 1,400 restaurants in Canada, where the federal government is planning to usher in a nationwide ban on food and drink marketing aimed at children.

By 2022, 50 per cent or more of the Happy Meal bundle offerings shown on menus will meet the criteria of fewer than or equal to 600 calories; less than or equal to 10 per cent of calories from saturated fat; fewer than or equal to 650 milligrams of sodium; and less than or equal to 10 per cent of calories from added sugar.

Currently, the made-for-kids meal boxes range from 300 to nearly 800 calories across North America.

McDonald’s global director of nutrition Julia Braun said in an interview that the move is aimed at the fast food giant being more transparent with their menu items.

“It’s really all about offering more balanced choices and using fewer ingredients,” she said.

“This will be our North Star in nutrition,” said Braun, adding it’s their first time establishing specific goals for one of their top selling meal combos.

Though the Happy Meal remains a top seller, she said the burger behemoth will be watching to see if parents are embracing the changes through increased sales of healthier kids meal options.


For international restaurants, McDonald’s said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.