McDonald's, Other Fast Casual Restaurants Go 'Healthy' for Kids

Happy Meal
Happy Meal

There'll be no more focus on french fries and soda as the founding tenets of the kid's meal faith, say competing press releases from McDonald's and the National Restaurant Association (NRA). OK, maybe soda. But french fries will be taken down a notch.

In a roundly lightweight move to stave off concerns that fast food and quick casual dining restaurants are marketing unhealthy food to children, the NRA announced the "Kids LiveWell" initiative while McDonald's said it would add fruit to its Happy Meals and halve the number of french fries it provides.

The Kids LiveWell initiative is voluntary, requiring only that restaurants make one menu item available that is "600 calories or less; two servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; with limits on sodium, fats and sugar" plus one additional item that's only 200 calories.

McDonald's is changing its Happy Meals default option, in some ways making it healthier but in other ways not at all -- it's adding chocolate milk to the choices of beverage, which is marginally better than soda but still has far too much added sugar.