The McHealthy Menu

15 February 2018 | Aaron Wise

What does the word McDonald’s bring to mind? Unhealthy, fatty and cheap fast-food, or a tasty guilty pleasure? Maybe, like me, it’s both.

It’s not a secret the behemoth of fast-food chains is not good for you, especially if you eat too much of it on a regular basis. I recently tried the Grand Big Mac, a 741kcal burger, as part of the company’s 50th anniversary since the launch of the Big Mac, and fell straight into a food coma.

In recent times, McDonald’s has tried to steer away from being labelled as completely unhealthy by placing items like fruit bags on its ever-changing menu. And today, in another bid to alter its perception as a greasy fast-food joint, it has announced it will scrap cheeseburgers from its Happy Meal menu.

The dramatic shake-up also includes plans to replace chocolate milk with water and halving its portions of fries, so as to reduce how often the high-calorie products are ordered.

In fact, McDonald’s has boldly announced it aims to cut the sodium, saturated fat and added sugar in its Happy Meals to such an extent, that by 2022 it wants at least half of all international Happy Meals to contain 600 calories of less – that’s impressive considering the average Happy Meal in the UK contains more than 900 calories!

The only catch is that the healthier meals will only be rolled out in June in the United States, with the UK and the rest of the world to follow suit at a later date.

But this is great PR by McDonald’s and will be met with resounding applause by parents and health advocates alike. Customers will still be able to order cheeseburgers and milkshakes, but not having them advertised on the Happy Meal menu will reduce how often they are ordered and promote healthier alternatives.

The company stressed that since it removed fizzy drinks from its Happy Meal menus four years ago, orders have dropped by 14 per cent.

With childhood obesity a growing concern in large parts of the world, and with today’s news that ultra-processed foods are linked to cancer, McDonald’s is leading the way for fast-food chains in adapting to meet our growing health and dietary concerns.

Cynics may believe this is just a deflection from the fact that the company still sells more than 75 calorie-packed burgers every second to more than 60 million people worldwide, but nevertheless, this is a smart PR move by McDonald’s and casts it in a positive light… at least for now.