The fast-food chain plans to reduce sodium, sugar, and calories.

By Faith Brar

McDonald's recently announced that it will provide more balanced meals for kids around the globe. This is huge considering 42 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 9 eat fast food on any given day in the U.S. alone.

By the end of 2022, the fast-food giant promises that 50 percent or more of their kids' meal options will abide by a new global Happy Meal nutrition criteria. According to these new standards, kids meals will be 600 calories or less, have less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats, less than 650mg of sodium, and less than 10 percent of calories from added sugar. (Related: 5 Nutritionists' Fast-Food Orders)

To meet these guidelines, the company plans to create a new low-sugar version of milk chocolate, nix cheeseburgers off the Happy Meal menu, and decrease the number of fries served with the six-piece Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Right now, the meal comes with an adult-size small fry, but they plan on creating a smaller version for kids. (You might also want to think twice before ordering any "snack size" menu items.)

They also plan to "serve more fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein, and water in Happy Meals," according to the company release. (Wait, the McDonald's menu now includes burger lettuce wraps?!)

McDonald's has been tinkering with their Happy Meal many for years. In 2011, they added apple slices to their kids' meals. Soda came off the Happy Meal in 2013. And last year, locations across the country replaced Minute Maid apple juice with a lower-sugar Honest Kids brand juice. (Here are some healthier versions of your favorite fast food that you can make at home.)

Some of these decisions were prompted by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group that empowers kids to develop healthier habits. They've been putting pressure on fast-food companies like McDonald's to be more conscious about what they're marketing toward kids.

"From day one, Healthier Generation knew our work with McDonald's could influence broad-scale improvements to meal options for kids everywhere," said Dr. Howell Wechsler, chief executive officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in a statement. "Today's announcement represents meaningful progress." We sure hope so.


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