Last week, McDonald’s made an announcement that probably has health conscious moms smiling. Beginning this September, they will automatically put a serving of fruit in each of their Happy Meals, reduce the size of the French fries included and offer a choice of beverage, which includes fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low fat white milk. In fact, you can omit the fries completely, if you choose, and get two servings of fruit instead!
My kids are teens, so we’re past the Happy Meal stage, but as a mother I’m really thrilled to see a huge corporation like McDonald’s taking steps to aid moms in promoting healthy food choices for their children. I’m a firm believer that good eating habits start early. I think associating meals and treats that children enjoy with nutritious options will help instill a fondness for the healthier foods.
This announcement is the latest in many efforts I’ve seen around the nation to help improve the health of our children. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign has been a big push in fighting childhood obesity with such initiatives as adding salad bars to schools, the Healthier US School Challenge (recognizing schools that provide a healthy environment through nutrition and activity) and efforts to work with day care providers in getting very young children off to a healthy start. The National Restaurant Association recently announced its Kids LiveWell program, which helps participating restaurants offer healthier menu items for children.
I know there are some skeptics out there that still think we have a long way to go before this problem is solved. I agree–there is much more that can and should be done, but I get the sense that we’re moving in the right direction–think baby steps. I’m also hopeful that as such large and influential organizations like McDonald’s join the fight, many other establishments will begin offering healthy alternatives as well. Who knows, maybe my grandchildren will associate a sweet treat with a piece of fruit instead of candy–I can only hope!