Houston, we’ve got some options.
The city’s plethora of fast food and donut shops has landed it on Men’s Fitness’ Fattest Cities list for a couple of years. But Houstonians and others will soon get some help from the world’s largest hamburger chain in making better eating choices.
McDonald’s announced Thursday that it will give customers the choice of a salad, fruit or vegetable at no extra cost as a substitute for french fries in its value meals early next year. The announcement came during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. The company plans to roll out the change in 20 of its biggest global markets – including the United States – which represent 85 percent of sales.
McDonald’s worked on the plan with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association to increase access to fruit and vegetables, and help families make better nutritional choices.
In addition to the fries substitute options, McDonald’s in a news release also committed to:
- Promote and market only water, milk, and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising;
- Use Happy Meal and other packaging to generate excitement among kids for fruit, vegetable, low/reduced-fat dairy, or water options;
- Dedicate Happy Meal box or bag panels, as well as its advertising directed to children, to communicate child-friendly nutrition or well-being messages.
The fast food industry and soft drink manufacturers have faced consistent criticism from health advocates and nutrition experts in the wake of growing obesity numbers in the United States. Almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight, with one in three being classified as obese.
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said the company is looking at developing other healthy sides that will appeal to customers. The challenge, though, is offering health-conscious menu options that sell.
"What we don't want to do is just put something on the menu and say, 'Hey, we did it,' ” Thompson told The Associated Press. “We really want consumption."
Just not too much consumption, Houston.