Thursday, July 28, 2011

Feelin’ Happy?

By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
So, has the recent announcement of the change in McDonald’s Happy Meals made you, well, happy?

In case you haven’t heard, Mickey D’s is cutting calories by adding apple slices and taking away about half of the fries inside each beloved red box in an effort to make the meal more health conscious (original Happy Meal: 590 calories, new and improved version: 470 calories).

But will this change make a difference? Will the trimmed down version of the Happy Meal make a dent in the more than 12.5 million obese children in America? Is it meant to?

A quick scan of online articles and message boards shows the sides are somewhat divided. Some feel the change is a start in paving the way for healthier food options at fast food restaurants while some say that fast food is bad food, no matter how many apples you throw at it.

My concern is that this latest McDonald’s update will result in the same reaction that many Americans tend to have to a change like this: that a “healthier” Happy Meal option translates to the Happy Meal now being “healthy,” or good for you. And because a Happy Meal is perceived as good for you, many more will be ordered, thus continuing the cycle of unhealthy eating habits. Let’s face it; the lower-cal options aren’t created because a restaurant cares about a person’s overall health. They do it because they want to sell more products.

But like most people commenting about the Happy Meal, I find myself in the moderation camp. A trip to McDonald’s (or to any other fast food establishment) should be limited to every once in a great while. All the packing and marketing claims aside, in the end, it’s about our own personal choices. We are ultimately responsible for our own health and the well being of our children.

How about you? Do you think McDonald’s is on the right track or is the cycle continuing?

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