‹ back to Press Releases

August 1, 2023

McDonald’s Advances Global Happy Meal® Nutrition through Goals Set with Healthier Generation

  • New third-party report validates five-year progress against goals set in 2018
  • Introduced 70 new fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, whole grain, lean protein, and water options to the global Happy Meal menu
  • Significant reduction of calories, sodium, saturated fats and added sugar
  • Director of Global Nutrition at McDonald’s, Julia Braun, says efforts to introduce and market fruit and vegetable offerings are providing families with accessible, balanced meals they can feel good about

(New York, N.Y.) – McDonald’s progress against their 2018 Happy Meal nutrition and marketing goals is detailed today in a report released by public policy economic consulting firm Keybridge, LLC. In collaboration with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a leading U.S. children’s health organization, McDonald’s set Global Happy Meal Goals in 2018 aiming to make balanced meals more accessible to families and children across the world.

The report* concluded that between 2018-2022, McDonald’s:

  • Served more than 5.7 billion items containing fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, whole grain, lean protein, or water via the Happy Meal
  • Reduced average calories in Happy Meal Bundle Offerings by 6%, sodium by 9%, saturated fat by 15%, and added sugar by 26%
  • Introduced 70 new fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, whole grain, lean protein, and water options to the Happy Meal menu, including more than 30 fruit options
  • Removed 100% of artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, and artificial preservatives where feasible from Happy Meal Offerings
  • Promoted water, milk or juice as the beverage, and fruit, vegetable or dairy items as the side in 100% of Happy Meal ads
  • Made Happy Meal nutrition information accessible on websites and mobile ordering apps

* Per external measurement and reporting in 20 of McDonald’s major markets, which collectively account for nearly 85% of global Happy Meal sales.

“The impressive results of this report prove that meaningful change is possible when you combine the global scale of a corporation like McDonald’s with the expertise of Healthier Generation,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “When Healthier Generation collaborated with McDonald’s to set these goals in 2018, we could not have imagined the ways in which our world and businesses would have to adapt. Nevertheless, McDonald’s dedication and persistence toward the goals, and ultimately to families around the world, resulted in meaningful change.”

“Over the last five years, we’ve made significant improvements to our Happy Meal nutritional profile, ingredients, and marketing practices around the world, said Julia Braun, Director of Global Nutrition at McDonald’s. “As a Dietitian and Mom, I’m proud of our markets’ efforts to introduce and creatively promote fruit and vegetable offerings that are fun and accessible to kids, providing families with choices they can feel good about.”

The 2018 Global Happy Meal Goals build on McDonald’s and Healthier Generation’s longstanding relationship. McDonald’s initial set of global commitments, announced in 2013, focused on increasing families’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water. These commitments greatly increased the variety of side options in Happy Meal, helping introduce items such as grape tomatoes in Australia, corn cups in Taiwan, and heart-shaped carrots in Austria. In 2018, McDonald’s renewed their commitment with five new global goals to offer more nutritious meals, simplify ingredients, increase transparency with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforce responsible marketing practices to children, and leverage innovative marketing to promote the purchase of recommended food groups in Happy Meal. As part of these commitments, markets around the world continued to introduce new, exciting sides for children and families, such as cucumber sticks in the UK, a veggie cup in China and pear slices in France.

# # #

About the report

The 20 McDonald’s markets measured in the report include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The full findings, which detail McDonald’s progress against its five Global Happy Meal Goals are publicly available on McDonald’s as well as Healthier Generation’s websites.

About Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a leading children's health organization that advances equitable whole child health. Driven by our passion to ensure that every mind, every body, and every young person is healthy and ready to succeed, our work has reached over 31 million young people across the country. To learn more and help make a difference, visit HealthierGeneration.org and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with over 40,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

Media Contact

Audrey Rodriguez

Strategic Communications Manager | Alliance for a Healthier Generation