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Half of all McDonald’s Happy Meals now ordered without soda

Illustration for article titled Half of all McDonald’s Happy Meals now ordered without soda
Photo: Kristian Dowling (Getty Images)

For years, McDonald’s has worked in partnership with health non-profit Alliance for a Healthier Generation to set healthier goals for its Happy Meals. Some of those efforts include offering fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; removing artificial preservatives and colors; and offering more Happy Meals under 600 calories. To reach those goals, McDonald’s has recently tweaked Happy Meals by nixing cheeseburgers as a Happy Meal option and offering bottled water at no extra charge. So, how’s progress been?

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Overall, pretty good. An independent report released today by McDonald’s and analyzed by Nation’s Restaurant News found a full half of Happy Meals served in 20 global markets are ordered without soda, in favor of low-fat milk or water. Consulting firm Keybridge, which conducted the report, found that as of September 2018, 48% of those global Happy Meal orders chose a non-soda option, up from 35% in September 2013. That was the year McDonald’s announced it would remove soda as a Happy Meal beverage option displayed on menu boards, though customers can still order Happy Meals with a soda. Now, 52% of Happy Meals ordered in the U.S. don’t contain soda.

The fast-food chain says it’s also had success introducing non-fry sides in Happy Meals, which vary from country to country. Australia serves grape tomatoes as a side, for example, while Austria has heart-shaped carrots as a choice. McDonald’s U.K. even offers a just-short-of-vegan Happy Meal anchored by a Veggie Wrap.

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Overall, the company is on pace to meet its global nutrition goals by the 2020 deadline.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

whysocicero
WhySoCicero

Personally I think this is huge. Keeping kids off of soda is going to pay dividends in a few decades in terms of health. Hopefully that percentage keeps shrining.