Taking the Happy out of Happy Meal

A New York city councilman pushed a bill this week to ban free toys in fast food meals to promote healthy eating. If approved, the bill will ban toys in fast food kids meals that are not under 500 calories. Currently, McDonald’s Happy Meals range in calories from 380 to 700 per meal.  Although the nutrition information is available in some restaurants and online, a Yale study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that only 6 out of 4311 people looked at the nutrition information at fast food restaurants before purchasing their meal. This works out to less than .1% of customers.

In other disturbing fast food news: If it says McDonald’s, it must taste good. This New York Times article breaks down a study called the Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Taste Preferences. The small study consisting of 63 children ages 3 to 5 preferred foods packages in McDonald’s wrapping compared to the same food presented in white unbranded packaging. Of the foods tested; a  hamburger, chicken nuggets, milk, apple juice, french fries, and carrots, french fries ranked the highest for branding preferences. 77% of children said the french fries served on the McDonald’s bag tasted better compared to 13% who preferred the fries from a plain white bag. Not quite as significant results, but still a slight preference was shown for carrots served on McDonald’s paper compared to the 23% each who preferred the unbranded carrots or had no preference.

On the other hand, maybe its a good way to get our kids to eat their veggies! Pick of some McDonald’s packaging (minus the food) and fill it with fruits and veggies and maybe, just maybe, your kids will think they are eating “better tasting” McDonald’s food.

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