Maggie: There are more than 160,000 fast food restaurants in America. And for the most part, it is generally kind of assumed you are not going to eat healthy there. Well, Scott Evans checks out one well-known chain that is getting a healthy makeover.
Scott: Sure, McDonald’s meals may be labeled ‘happy,’ but ‘healthy’ has been another question for decades. But next year, McDonald’s customers will be able to substitute fruit, salad, or even a vegetable for fries in their value meals, says the company’s CEO.
Don Thompson: We don’t think we’re the problem related to obesity, but we think we can be part of the solution.
Scott: The new options will be rolled out in twenty countries including the United States. Only water, milk and juice will be shown on menu boards for kids’ Happy Meals. And advertising directed to children will feature messages about nutrition.
President Bill Clinton: This is the first time a big player in the food business has made a commitment in the United States to change advertising directed at children.
Scott: Former president Bill Clinton’s reaction to the plan, which is the result of a partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization that works to create sustainable change in communities all over the world and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation who says it was a no-brainer to work with McDonald’s.
Howell Wechsler: This is exactly the group that we want to work with. We can’t solve the obesity problem without working with the companies that provide the bulk of the food and beverages that children consume.
Scott: McDonalds feeds 69 million people a day and now wants to appeal to a customer who wants healthier options. For example, a small fry at McDonald’s has 230 calories. Now, when you stack that up to the apples they offer, at just 15 calories, or the side salad that has 20 calories – with no dressing, of course – the possible effects become very clear. And there has been pressure on McDonald’s for years to switch up the menu.
Thompson: The only pressure that, as McDonald’s, we feel is the pressure to continue to evolve with customers and their changing needs and their eating habits. Any business that is not doing that, won’t be a business. In France, we do a thing called Crunchy Wednesdays where we actually, once a month, we give away fruit free to children as they come into the restaurants. We rotate between kiwi, and watermelon, and pineapple spears, and other fruits. In restaurant eating, for kids 3-8, 60% of the fruit consumed is consumed at McDonald’s.
Scott: That is right. Nearly two-thirds of fruit eaten in restaurants by children in France is eaten at McDonald’s. But could it be the future for the U.S.?
Thompson: We’ll do everything we can.
Scott: Which for now means passing the salad while passing on the fries.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Maggie: McDonald’s feeds about 1% of the world’s population every day. So changes at their restaurants could have a global impact.