The Happy Meal menu at your local McDonald’s is about to look a lot different —and it’s a big move to make the kids’ menu healthier. The company announced Thursday that by 2022, they will offer “more balanced” Happy Meals in 120 different markets around the world.
That means at least half of the Happy Meals on menus around the world will be under 600 calories and under 650 mg of sodium, with less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 10 percent of calories from added sugar. Right now, 28% of Happy Meals in 20 markets meet those criteria. So McDonald’s says it plans to add new items to the menu, remove some items, and reformulate others. Aside from those guidelines, the company will also work on removing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, and will be more transparent about nutrition information for customers.
In the United States, things are going to move quickly. By this June, McDonald’s promises to have all Happy Meal menu options be 600 calories or fewer, plus it will fit the new criteria for sugar and saturated fat. 78% of Happy Meal options will fit the sodium requirement, which means McDonald’s will limit the menu to a hamburger, 4-piece Chicken McNuggets, and 6-piece Chicken McNuggets. (The restaurant will only include a cheeseburger if a customer requests it.) It’ll also replace the small fries with a kid-sized fries in the 6-piece McNugget meal, reformulate the chocolate milk to have less added sugar, offer bottled water as an option, and sell a different version of its apple juice with less sugar.
This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has made moves to make Happy Meals healthier. According to NPR, McDonald’s removed soda as a listed option on Happy Meal menus, and now has noticed an increase in Happy Meals ordered without soda as a drink. Instead, more than half of Happy Meals ordered now include water, milk, or juice.