How McDonald's plans to make Happy Meals healthier

In an effort to provide healthier food options to its customers, McDonald's announced plans to change what's served in Happy Meals for children.

You might love it, but your kids may have a different opinion.

In an effort to provide healthier food options to its customers, McDonald's announced plans to change what's served in Happy Meals for children.

By 2022, the Happy Meal menu across 120 global markets will improve to offer more balanced meals and simplify ingredients. Customers in the United States, however, will see those changes sooner than later.

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By this June, all Happy Meal food combinations offered will be 600 calories or fewer. All combinations will comply with new nutritional criteria for added sugar and saturated fat, and 78 percent compliant with the new sodium criteria.

U.S. customers can expect to see the following changes:

  • Listing only the following meal choices: Hamburger, 4-piece and 6-piece Chicken McNuggets. The Cheeseburger will only be available at a customer's request.
  • Replacing the small French fries with kids-sized fries in the 6-piece Chicken McNugget meal, which decreases the calories and sodium in the fries serving by half.
  • Reformulating chocolate milk to reduce the amount of added sugar. During this period, chocolate milk will no longer be listed on the Happy Meal menu, but will be available at a customer's request.
  • Later this year, bottled water will be added as a featured beverage choice on Happy Meal menu boards, however, it will cost extra.

Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said. McDonald's has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

"Given our scale and reach, we hope these actions will bring more choices to consumers and uniquely benefit millions of families, which are important steps as we build a better McDonald's," Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's President and CEO, said in a press release.

For international restaurants, McDonald's Corp. said that at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines. The company said some are adding new menu items to comply, like in Italy, where a grilled chicken sandwich was added to the Happy Meal menu.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.