Changes in fast food combo meals means fewer calories for kids

Dec. 20, 2013, Red Orbit

By Gerard LeBlond

Obesity among children is a growing problem, especially with the abundant availability of fast food establishments. Public health officials estimate there is a 17 percent obesity rate among youths.

Recently, two researchers at Cornell University, Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. Andrew Hanks, analyzed data from 30 representative McDonald’s restaurants to find out if children would choose a higher calorie meal to compensate for smaller combo meal portions.

Before 2012, Happy Meals were served as either a chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, or hamburger entrée. The side items were either apples or a small fry, and the beverage was either a fountain drink, apple juice, white milk, or chocolate milk.

As of April 2012, all restaurants in this chain served a smaller portion of fries “kid fry.” The smaller portion is 1.1 ounce instead of the 2.4 ounces previously served. Continue reading

Alliance for a Healthier Generation and McDonald’s announce groundbreaking CGI commitment to promote balanced food and beverage choices

Sept. 26, 2013, The Wall Street Journal

McDonald’s is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, to increase customers’ access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles. President Bill Clinton, founder of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Don Thompson, President and CEO of McDonald’s, and Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, announced the groundbreaking Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment today at the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting in New York City.

McDonald’s worked with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive plan for 20 of the restaurant chain’s largest markets. Continue reading

Teens ate ‘too many calories’ at Subway and McDonald’s, study says

May 8, 2013, Los Angeles Times

By Mary Macvean

Adolescents who went to McDonald’s and Subway in Los Angeles bought about the same number of calories at each, despite Subway’s reputation as a healthier place to eat, researchers said.

The menus are not the point, lead researcher Dr. Lenard Lesser of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute said by phone. “Our study was not based on what people have the ability to pick, our study was based on what adolescents actually selected in a real-world setting.”

The adolescents bought an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald’s and 955 calories at Subway. The calorie difference was not statistically significant, the researchers said. Their work was published May 6 in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Continue reading

McDonald’s fined in Brazil for pushing Happy Meals to children

April 22, 2013, Reuters

By Brad Haynes

A consumer protection agency in Brazil has taken aim at the Happy Meal, fining McDonald’s Corp on April 22 for targeting children with its advertising and toys.

The Procon agency in the state of Sao Paulo fined the fast-food company 3.2 million reais ($1.6 million), adding fuel to a global debate about fast food and public health.

As with the case in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, much of the debate centers on how McDonald’s and other fast-food companies market to children and other young consumers.

While the initial fine may have little impact on the world’s largest restaurant chain, the agency said additional citations for similar advertising could arise, more than doubling the cost to McDonald’s. Consumer agencies in other jurisdictions could also soon follow the precedent in Brazil’s most populous state. Continue reading