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

Kids’ fast food ads promote toys over burgers, study finds

Aug. 28, 2013, Everyday Health

By Amir Khan

If your kid is clamoring for a Happy Meal, he may be more interested in the toy than the burger, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire found that fast food advertisements aimed at kids promote toys and movie tie-ins more than the food, which could play a role in increasing childhood obesity epidemic.

Nearly 70 percent of fast food advertisements aimed at kids promoted giveaways or a movie tie-in, according to the study, compared to only 1 percent of advertisements targeting adults. Associating fast food with cartoon characters is linked to an increased consumption of fast food, according to the researchers, who said that there needs to be strict regulations on child-targeted advertising. Continue reading