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Food & Drink

McDonald's Puts Yogurt in the Healthier Happy Meal Roster


McDonald’s (MCD) is once again giving its Happy Meal a nutrition-focused makeover.

Starting on July 4, its Happy Meal will come with strawberry yogurt as an optional side, for those who prefer something besides French fries. Fries-averse kids—or, more likely, their parents—can request apple slices and yogurt. The Go-Gurt low-fat strawberry yogurt, which General Mills (GIS) specially made for McDonald’s, will have 50 calories and 25 percent less sugar than regular Go-Gurt.

McDonald’s has been working on improving the healthfulness of the Happy Meal since 2004, when it first introduced apple dippers (100 calories with the caramel sauce), 1 percent low-fat milk, and apple juice. In its 2013 nutrition progress report (PDF), the fast-food giant said changes like shrinking the size of the fries and adding apple slices and milk had reduced the average calories and fat in Happy Meals.

According to the government nutrition site Choosemyplate.gov, children aged 4 to 8 generally need 1,200 to 1,400 calories daily. With an emphasis on calories, here’s a look at the most and least healthful ways to build a Happy Meal:

Most healthful
Main: Chicken Nuggets (190 cal)
Sides: Apple (15 cal) and yogurt (50 cal)
Beverage: Apple juice (80 cal)
Nutrition: 335 cal, 20 percent of daily fat, 21 percent of daily sodium

Least healthful
Main: Cheeseburger (300 cal)
Sides: Fries (100 cal) and yogurt (50 cal)
Beverage: Sweet tea* (110 cal)
Nutrition: 560 cal, 28 percent of daily fat, 33 percent of daily sodium
*McDonald’s no longer lists soda on Happy Meal menus, but customers can still request it

To kick off the new menu, the chain is also introducing a Happy Meal mascot—named Happy, naturally—though some on social media have found the googly-eyed character alarming.

Venessa-wong-190x190
Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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