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Happy to be Healthy

Can a meal be both healthy and induce happiness in children? Indeed it can be done, but ask any veteran of the natural products industry, and you will be told that it isn't an easy thing to do. Or, better yet, simply compare the nacho cheese-flavored chips from Sprouts with a bag of Dorito's. The difference between the two flavor profiles is shocking. But, alas, health and wellness is a long-standing American social trend, and marketers everywhere have been busy reformulating products to make them healthier for people to consume.

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McDonald's has been committed to reviewing all of its ingredients and its products in the name of improving brand attitudes, and the most recent effort involves making the Happy Meal somewhat healthier. The legendary kid's meal is about to get a facelift. By June 2018, all Happy Meals in the U.S. will have less than 600 calories in them, with fewer calories, less salt, and a smaller-sized side of fries. There will be no cheese on the burgers, the chocolate milk will have less sugar in it, and bottled water will become a default option instead of soda. McMarketers are doubling down on offering fruits and vegetables, as it has already seen success with baby carrots and Cuties tangerines. International locations in 120 countries will reflect these changes by 2022.

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Obviosuly Happy Meals still aren't what nutritionists would consider "healthy", but this sort of self-regulation is already rippling through the industry, with competitors following suit. Non-profit organizations like the Alliance for a Healthier Generation are thrilled that McDonald's is raising the bar in terms of social responsibility, reducing staurated fats and added sugar as well as offering healthier food options for a young generation threatened by obesity.  And not only does it seem to be the right thing to do, pleasing these sorts of watchdog groups certainly reflects well on the brand as well.


Discussion: Is it smart marketing for McDonald's to improve the nutritional profile of its products? What are some of the potential problems that may arise from these changes?