I was wondering what we’d start seeing as the National Calorie Labeling Law comes into effect and I have to say I’ve been quite impressed with multiple restaurants attempting reformulations or portion size changes. For instance, this week I read that the Cheesecake Factory is going to create a Skinnylicious menu where entrees would be less than 590 calories. Of course I love this idea, the name not so much.
Of all the changes I’ve seen so far, McDonalds seems to have the most in depth plan to date. On July 26, 2011, the President of McDonalds announced the following commitment to offer improved nutrition choices.
1) To automatically include produce or low fat dairy products in happy meals by the end of Q1 2012. This will provide a 20% reduction in calories.
2) To reduce added sugars, saturated fat and calories by 2020 and reduce sodium by 15% by the year 2015.
3) To offer increased access to nutrition information. McDonalds will even be launching their own mobile application for McDonalds providing nutrition information on all products.
McDonald’s has already reduced sodium by 10% in all their chicken menu items and will be rolling out the new happy meal in September 2011. The new happy meal will reduce french fries to a serving size of 1.1 ounce and also provide ¼ cup of apples in every meal. There will also be a choice of fat free chocolate milk and 1% low fat milk.
In addition to the changes that are already underway, look out for McDonald’s “listening tour” which will be a national venue for parents and nutrition experts to express their ideas on how McDonald’s can initiate healthier options. McDonald’s will also be working with a third party joining a Kids Food and Nutrition Advisory Board which will help promote nutrition and lifestyle marketing messages for kids.
In my eyes, all of these changes are great but my message still remains the same. Parents still have the primary role to educate children on healthy nutrition choices by limiting high calorie, sodium, and saturated fats to name a few. Just because McDonald’s is making some changes, this doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to increase visits to Ronald McDonald.
Here’s to your health! Be well.