By now, everyone knows that McDonald's will be changing their Happy Meals to make them healthier for kids. Starting in just a few days, here's what a Happy Meal is going to look like:
* Both fries and apple slices will become part of the standard Happy Meal.
* They are downsizing Happy Meal fries to a 1.1-ounce portion (less than half the size of the current 2.5-ounce small fries), and downsize the apple slice packet (from about 8-10 slices per packet to about 4-5).
* Apple Dippers will be rebranded as Apple Slices: yes, they're phasing out the caramel dipping sauce. Also, the current pack, with 8-10 apple slices each, will be downsized to a package of 4-5 apple slices.
These changes are supposed to cut down Happy Meal calories by about 20 percent. The new, healthier Happy Meals will start rolling out in September, and should be be available at every one of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
And still people are complaining?
With McDonald's being such a huge company, there's no way they can please everybody. There are always going to be people who think McDonald's is responsible for the obesity epidemic in the US; to them, being responsible means to stop selling fast food altogether, and basically close shop.
I honestly don't think it's McDonald's responsibility to sell only healthy food. Are cupcakes healthy? Is fish-and-chips healthy? How about ice cream? None of them are -- but they are treats that can be enjoyed occasionally and responsibly (i.e. in reasonable portions, and with an appropriate increase in physical activity to compensate for the extra calories). Same with McDonald's.
Do you know what a traditional Filipino breakfast is like? We have fried eggs with fried fish/ham/sausages/Spam, fried rice, thick hot chocolate and egg bread slathered with butter, sugar and cheese! Any Filipino restaurant worth its salt will have this kind of food available if they're open for breakfast -- yet Filipinos are not generally obese, because portion sizes are small.
As a global corporation, it is McDonald's responsibility to be transparent about what's in their food, and to provide options. I, for one, think these changes are great because they are making strides towards providing more choices and more options for parents to give their kids.
Parents, YOU are responsible for your children, not McDonald's. It is your responsibility to see what food goes into your child, and your responsibility to see that they get the physical activity they need. Here are some ways you can give your kids a Happy Meal and still be responsible:
* If you hate the new, smaller-sized kids' fries, you can still order it for your child from the regular menu. But you need to bear in mind that the small fries (2.5 ounces) is an adult-sized portion. That's how much grownups should be eating. That size doesn't belong in a kids' meal anyway.
* If you don't want your kids to have fries at all, you can ask for two bags of apples instead of apples and fries.
* You can ask for low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk, or apple juice instead of soda.
* If you don't like the idea of bribing your kids to eat with a Happy Meal Toy, tell the server you don't want it. Or take it and hide it in your purse, and donate it to Goodwill or a homeless shelter.
* Finally, you can always choose to go to McDonald's only occasionally, or not at all.
But you have to accept the fact that McDonald's offers an extremely convenient and affordable option for busy, working parents. It's inexpensive, so low-income and working class families can afford to treat their kids to a meal at a restaurant. That's certainly how a lot of poorest families in the Philippines regard a trip to McDonald's -- a special occasion. Why have McDonald's go out of business and deprive these people of that option? Just be happy that people who are going to McDonald's with their kids anyway now have healthier options!
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