McDonald’s Canada announced yesterday that it will be adding a small serving of 1 percent milk fat yogurt to its Happy Meals this fall. The company will also be reducing the Happy Meal fries portion to 31 g (100 calories) from the current 71 g, reports CTV News. But will these changes make the Happy Meal a healthy choice?
The McDonald’s Canada Nutrition Calculator doesn’t list nutritional values for Happy Meal foods specifically, however consider this: A 71 g serving of fries contains 170 mg of sodium, so if we subtract the 40 g being cut from the new Happy Meal meal and you end up with 130 mg 74.2 mg of sodium. A regular hamburger contains 510 mg of sodium. A child eating this combo alone for lunch would consume 640 mg 584 mg of sodium. Health Canada recommends that people over the age of one get 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day and the Mayo Clinic recommends 1,200 mg per day for children four to eight. So 640 mg 584 is more than about half of a child’s recommended sodium intake for the day. Factor in the inevitable pop, the yogurt (nutritional values aren’t yet available for that) and the caramel dipping sauce that comes with the meal’s apple slices (40 mg) and the meal contains too much sodium for a child’s lunch.
It’s safe to say that a McDonal’s Happy Meal can’t really be considered "health food." But that doesn’t mean you have to ban it from your children’s menu forever. As registered nutritionist Theresa Albert told CTV:
"You’ve got to bend once in a while and say ‘yes’ to these kinds of things, and just make wise choices when you’re there."
Are you happy to see McDonald’s taking steps to add healthier options to their menu or do you see this as an empty marketing move?