McDonald’s progress against their 2018 Happy Meal nutrition and marketing goals is detailed today in a report released by public policy economic consulting firm Keybridge, LLC. In collaboration with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a leading U.S. children’s health organization, McDonald’s set Global Happy Meal Goals in 2018 aiming to make balanced meals more accessible to families and children across the world.
The report concluded that between 2018–2022, McDonald’s:
- Served more than 5.7 billion items containing fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, whole grain, lean protein, or water via the Happy Meal
- Reduced average calories in Happy Meal Bundle Offerings by 6 percent, sodium by 9 percent, saturated fat by 15 percent, and added sugar by 26 percent
- Introduced 70 new fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, whole grain, lean protein, and water options to the Happy Meal menu, including more than 30 fruit options
- Removed 100 percent of artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, and artificial preservatives where feasible from Happy Meal Offerings
- Promoted water, milk or juice as the beverage, and fruit, vegetable or dairy items as the side in 100 percent of Happy Meal ads
- Made Happy Meal nutrition information accessible on websites and mobile ordering apps
All per external measurement and reporting in 20 of McDonald’s major markets, which collectively account for nearly 85 percent of global Happy Meal sales.
“The impressive results of this report prove that meaningful change is possible when you combine the global scale of a corporation like McDonald’s with the expertise of Healthier Generation,” says Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “When Healthier Generation collaborated with McDonald’s to set these goals in 2018, we could not have imagined the ways in which our world and businesses would have to adapt. Nevertheless, McDonald’s dedication and persistence toward the goals, and ultimately to families around the world, resulted in meaningful change.”
“Over the last five years, we’ve made significant improvements to our Happy Meal nutritional profile, ingredients, and marketing practices around the world, said Julia Braun, Director of Global Nutrition at McDonald’s. “As a Dietitian and Mom, I’m proud of our markets’ efforts to introduce and creatively promote fruit and vegetable offerings that are fun and accessible to kids, providing families with choices they can feel good about.”
The 2018 Global Happy Meal Goals build on McDonald’s and Healthier Generation’s longstanding relationship. McDonald’s initial set of global commitments, announced in 2013, focused on increasing families’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water. These commitments greatly increased the variety of side options in Happy Meal, helping introduce items such as grape tomatoes in Australia, corn cups in Taiwan, and heart-shaped carrots in Austria. In 2018, McDonald’s renewed their commitment with five new global goals to offer more nutritious meals, simplify ingredients, increase transparency with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforce responsible marketing practices to children, and leverage innovative marketing to promote the purchase of recommended food groups in Happy Meal. As part of these commitments, markets around the world continued to introduce new, exciting sides for children and families, such as cucumber sticks in the UK, a veggie cup in China and pear slices in France.