Category Archives: Happy meal

A new “Happy Meals” bill ‘Happy Meals’ may make parents a lot happier about healthier fast food choices for kids in New York City

ap110725132481“Happy Meals” is one of those phrases that no longer simply applies to the McDonald’s kids meals to which it actually refers. Kind of like “Kleenex” and “Coke” (referring to facial tissues and cola drinks), a “Happy Meal” is now a universal reference to a kids meal that comes in a box along with a toy or sometimes a book at a fast food restaurant. Traditionally, though, has always thought that a Happy Meal isn’t really a happy meal – at least not nutritionally. The term “miserable meal” would be much more fitting when you take a good look at what goes into those boxes.

Now, a new bill to improve the nutritional value of fast food restaurant meals marketed to children — like McDonald’s Happy Meals — could have a wide enough impact to reduce calories, fat, and sodium, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The study, which will publish in the American Journal of Preventive Medicineonline on August 31, includes collaboration from NYU College of Global Public Health, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The “Healthy Happy Meals” Bill, proposed by New York City Council member Benjamin J. Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, would require that fast food meals marketed to kids using toys or other promotional items include a serving of fruit, vegetables or whole grain. They must also be limited to 500 calories or less, with fewer than 35 percent of calories coming from fat, fewer than 10 percent coming from saturated fat, fewer than 10 percent from added sugars, and fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium. The bill is currently being considered by the City Council, and is similar to legislation recently enacted in California.

To identify whether the bill might make a public health impact on nutrition improvement and number of children reached, the researchers analyzed receipts collected in 2013 and 2014 from 358 adults, which included purchases for 422 children at multiple New York City and New Jersey locations of Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s, three fast food chains that market kids’ meals.

Adults purchased on average 600 calories for each child, with 36 percent of those calories coming from fat, according to the findings. Over one-third of children ordered kids’ meals, and 98 percent of kids’ meals did not meet the nutritional criteria outlined in the proposed legislation.

If kids’ meals meet the bill’s criteria and children’s orders do not shift, there would be a 9 percent drop in calories — representing 54 fewer calories — a 10 percent drop in sodium, and a 10 percent drop in percentage of calories from fat.

“While 54 calories at a given meal is a small reduction, small changes that affect a wide number of people can make a large impact,” said Brian Elbel, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the Departments of Population Health at NYU Langone and at NYU Wagner. “Passing the bill could be a step in the right direction, though no single policy can singlehandedly eliminate childhood obesity.”

“The policy’s effectiveness will depend on whether the food industry attempts to neutralize it through marketing or other strategies,” said Marie Bragg, PhD, co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone and at the NYU College of Global Public Health. “For example, the industry could remove children’s meals altogether, forcing children to order the larger portions from the adult menu.”

Dr. Bragg offered another approach: “Policymakers could consider broader restrictions on marketing, similar to legislation in Chile that banned any use of toy premiums in children’s meals in 2012,” she said.

While it may not seem like it goes far enough, this bill is far better than recent attempts by fast food giants to make kids’ meals appear healthier by promoting them without soda and fries – even though the meals are still sold with soda and fries as options. We hope we see this get through the legislation process. It’s been a long time coming.

For a limited time only, McDonald’s brings reading back to Happy Meals

Happy-MealCan books make fast food more appealing to parents? McDonald’s thinks there’s a possibility. There was a time when McDonald’s was including a book with the Happy Meal instead of a toy. And they’ve brought it back for a limited time. Unfortunately, the meal is remaining the same.

McDonald’s is bringing back books in its Happy Meals. Until January 22, children’s Happy Meals will come with books and an activity in place of the more familiar plastic toy.

The company has partnered with the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental and HarperCollins for the book giveaway. Kids can get one of four books (none, unfortunately, by Dr. Seuss).

The titles that will be showing up with the Happy Meal are “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond; “Big Nate: In a Class by Himself” by Lincoln Peirce; “Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses” by Kimberly and James Dean and “Flat Stanley Goes Camping” by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan.

In a statement, Julie Wenger, senior director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s, said the project is “part of a broader book strategy to combine the fun of the Happy Meal and support of our partners to inspire more family reading time.”

The companies plan to distribute 17 million books during the promotional period. is all for promoting reading to kids. But we’re also all for promoting healthy eating for kids. We’re not necessarily sure that the inclusion of a book with a bad meal will make parents believe that the meal is a good choice for their children. We’d like to suggest making the kids lunch at home and taking them to storytime at the library instead. Much better option!

Are you Happier with the “New” Happy Meal?

gty_mcdonalds_hiring_day_jrs_110407_wg would like to report that McDonald’s president, Jan Fields, announced today that the major fast-food franchise will now be serving healthier happy meals for their younger customers.

Regardless of criticism, this is quite a big deal for many of the advocates of child nutrition. McDonald’s has been seen as a major antagonist against the fight to end childhood obesity for many years now. McDonald’s previous happy meal combinations ranged anywhere from 500-700 calories per serving, with sodium numbers going through the roof. The new happy meal will be approximately 470 calories, compared to the previous 570 calorie option. Also, saturated fat will now be reduced from 20 to 14 grams, which is still pretty high, but a good start. However, we assume these happy meals will still contain a decent amount of sugar. We’re not quite sure of the exact number yet, but the previous happy meal contained about 89 grams of sugar (or 22 teaspoons).

So what exactly are they changing? The soda is gone. Instead of kids getting a Coke or Sprite, they’ll be receiving low-fat milk. Also, apple dippers (slices) will be served, IN ADDITION to a smaller serving of french fries. The caramel dipping sauce normally associated with their apple slices will not be included. Also, parents may choose to scrap the fries all together and get 2 bags of apple dippers instead, which we’re sure some are likely to do.

We have not come across any information pertaining to a change in the chicken nuggets, or burgers. We assume these famous staples will remain untouched during this happy meal makeover.

We’re excited to hear the reactions and feedback from our followers on this announcement as to whether or not you feel this is just a ploy for press, or a step in the right direction for fast-food.

What’s in your Happy Meal?


McDonald’s Scrambled Eggs takes a deeper look into the ingredients in some of McDonald’s most popular foods!McDonald’s scrambled eggs are not just made with whole eggs; they are also filled with preservatives, hydrogenated oils, food coloring, and other additives. In fact, there are approximately 20 different ingredients in the 3.3oz serving that McDonald’s provides each morning to millions of consumers that may possibly believe they are receiving a well-balanced meal.


One of the first ingredients listed on the nutrition label is sodium acid pyrophosphate. This food additive helps scrambled eggs maintain their “appealing” yellow color. What some may not know is that this product is also used in petroleum production. The chemicals in this compound help to prevent clumping in oil-well drilling mud. Still think that’s appetizing?

Some other ingredients listed in this product are sodium benzoate, and beta carotene colors. This is quite controversial considering that some studies recently done by the Food Standards Agency, have shown that sodium benzoate in the presence of food coloring may cause hyperactive behavior in children. Although this study is still being investigated, it is good information to know for the next time you bring your kids to the McDonald’s drive-thru window.

Aside from all the food additives and preservatives, these scrambled eggs also have 4g of saturated fat, and 520mg of cholesterol. These numbers represent 20% of the daily value for saturated fats and 173% of daily value for cholesterol, just in this one serving alone. Sounds like it may be healthier just to prepare your eggs at home.

McDonald’s Big Mac

McDonald’s Big Mac is 3 buns, 2 beef patties, and 100 other ingredients. This sandwich lists high fructose corn syrup, ammonium chloride, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate, and calcium disodium, just to name a few.


What sticks out most in the above list is probably ammonium chloride. You may have heard of this ingredient because it is very commonly used in shampoos as a thickening agent, cleaning products, various glues, fertilizers, textiles and leather, and even fireworks and explosives. In the Big Mac and many other foods, ammonium chloride is used as a food additive. This inorganic compound helps maintain color in food products, changes the texture of foods, and sometimes adds a “spicy” flavor. Would you want the same ingredients listed on your cleaning products also listed on the foods you eat?

A possible positive for this sandwich, there is a lot of protein, about 25 grams. Also, because of the 2 beef patties, the Big Mac also provides 25% of your daily value for iron. However, you also get 1,040mg sodium, 29g total fat, 10g saturated fat, and 75mg cholesterol. This sandwich is also 540 calories, 260 of these calories are just from fat alone.

McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap

A few years ago, McDonald’s introduced snack wraps to their long-chain of restaurants. These snack wraps are considered the “healthy” quick items to grab during the day that can help hold you over until dinner time.


This Grilled Chicken Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap from McDonald’s is about half the size of the quintessential Big Mac, but lists more ingredients. Due to the fact these snack wraps are marketed to be the healthy options, one would think it would have fewer, and simpler ingredients. However, one of the ingredients that stick out most is sodium metabisulfite. This substance is commonly used as a disinfectant in home brewing and winemaking to sterilize process equipment. In this snack wrap, it is a food additive that helps to preserve the product over a period of time.

Sodium metabisulfite has also been shown to cause allergic reaction within the respiratory system to those who are sensitive to sulfites. The acceptable daily intake is about 0.7mg per kg of body weight. However, the amount is not specified in this product, so those who are sensitive to sulfites may want to be extra careful.

McDonald’s Large French Fries

McDonald’s french fries are a staple at the thousands of restaurants. Commonly, most people visit the drive-thru just to order a side of fries. Although they may taste good, and be somewhat fulfilling for many consumers, the list of ingredients is a turn-off for some.


For those that may not be as familiar with the chemistry behind hydrogenated fats, it is basically a process to convert monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to the less-healthy saturated fats. This is done because changing the level of saturation, also changes a products physical properties. The more saturated the product, the better it bakes or cooks.

These McDonald’s French fries include hydrogenated oils so that the product maintains its form during the frying process. However, this process increases the amount of total fat and saturated fat in the product. These French fries contain about 18% of the daily value for saturated fat, and 38% of the daily value for total fat, which are pretty high numbers.

Another ingredient in this product is dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent. McDonald’s reported that this compound is used in a matter of safety, to prevent the oil on both the fries and chicken nuggets from foaming. This chemical is a type of silicone-polymer that is commonly used in hair shampoos, lubricating oils, contact lenses, medical devices, and so on. If more people knew about this ingredient, would it still be such a huge seller?

McDonald’s M&M McFlurry

The McDonald’s McFlurry came into production around the late 90’s. This was an instant hit with consumers because it beat the ordinary vanilla soft-serve they had originally offered. Snickers, M&Ms, Oreo, and other flavors have been featured in McFlurry items to increase sales of these popular desserts. Not only are there candies and cookies, but also a long list of ingredients that some may consider controversial. Among these ingredients are 10 different food colorings, and also carrageenan.


Food colorings have been reported to increase hyperactive behavior in children diagnosed with ADHD. Although clinical studies have shown mixed results in this matter, many parents believe that food colorings eliminated from the diet improve their children’s behavior. The McFlurry is equipped with Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, and Blue 2.

Carrageenan has raised eyebrows in recent years because many people believe it causes certain health implications. Results from studies have shown that rats, monkeys, and guinea pigs consuming a certain amount of carrageenan may not only obtain ulcerations in the GI tract, but also GI cancer. Current studies are also examining the relationship between carrageenan consumption and inflammatory bowel disease and also Crohn’s Disease.