The Impact of McDonald’s Happy Meals

Julia Braun, MPH, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at McDonald’s, and a new mom, who is thinking about her child’s future.

Julia Braun, MPH, RDN — McDonald’s Director of Global Nutrition

I started my career working in the field of public health nutrition and when I joined McDonald’s in 2005, I couldn’t imagine a better place to work to make a meaningful impact. I was fascinated by how we are able to make changes that really make a difference for the millions of customers, who visit us every day. From modern choices, quality ingredients and new menu offerings, the options seemed endless as I embarked on my career inside the Golden Arches.

As customers’ lifestyles have changed, so has McDonald’s, and we continue to look at how we can make changes that really matter. Through a partnership with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s announced a global commitment in 2013 to increase our customers’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water options and help families make informed choices that support balanced lifestyles. I was part of the team that launched these commitments and today, we’re reporting our 2016 progress which makes me extremely proud of our accomplishments around the world.

Image credit: Alliance for a Healther Generation and McDonald’s Corporation

For example, in Happy Meals, we served:

· 951 million water, fruit, vegetable, juice, and low-fat dairy items across 13 participating markets in 2016

· 406 million low-fat/reduced sugar Go-GURT yogurts in the U.S. between 2014 and 2016

· Four new juice and seasonal fruit options in 2016 in Spain

· A child-friendly, pop-top water bottle, a seasonal fruit side item (melon) in 2015 in the U.K.

· And finally, after removing sodas from Happy Meal menus, the percentage of Happy Meal customers selecting milk, water and juice increased by 9.4 percentage points across twelve markets from 2013 to 2016, and over 10 percentage points here in the U.S.

“We are happy to see that McDonald’s continues to meet or exceed its commitments to increase access to healthier food and drink options for families. Our partnership showcases the real change that can come from collaboration between non-profits and the business sector.”— Howell Wechsler, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Image credit: McDonald’s Corporation

Our menu has evolved over the years, and so has our mindset around how we engage our customers on nutrition. There are real differences across geographies when it comes to nutrition. No matter where in the world our customers are located, we want them to have the information they need to make the choices that are right for them when they visit McDonald’s. As I reflect back to when we announced our commitment, I feel confident knowing that small steps have led to big changes and real progress at McDonald’s.

Image credit: McDonald’s Corporation

Julia Braun, MPH, RDN — McDonald’s Director of Global Nutrition