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October 21, 2020

New Report Shows Progress on Global Happy Meal Goals Set with McDonald’s and Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Third-party analysis shows advancements on efforts to reduce kids’ consumption of calories, saturated fat, salt, and added sugar

(Chicago, Ill.) October 21, 2020 - A report released today by third-party evaluator Keybridge LLC details progress toward a set of ambitious global nutrition goals that McDonald’s set in 2018 with national children’s health nonprofit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation). The report measures performance on five Global Happy Meal Goals, which McDonald’s has pledged to achieve in all of its markets by the end of 2022. Progress is being independently evaluated in 20 of these markets, representing 85% of global Happy Meal sales, including the United States.  

Key findings from the report, based on data collected largely prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic, include: 

  • In 2019, half of all beverages sold in Happy Meals were water, milk or juice, and over 2.5 billion Happy Meal items sold since 2018 contained fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy, water, lean protein or whole grains. 
  • McDonald’s improved the average nutritional profile of Happy Meal bundles through decreases of 28 calories, 37 mg sodium, 0.6 grams saturated fat, and 1.4 grams added sugars from 2018 to 2019. 
  • As of early 2020, 93% of Happy Meal menu items have no artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, or artificial preservatives that could be feasibly reduced.   
  • In 2019, 60% of the 20 measured markets provided complete Happy Meal nutrition information on McDonald’s owned websites and mobile apps used for ordering.  
  • 83% of all Happy Meals shown in children’s ads in 2019 met the nutrition criteria set in the Global Happy Meal Goals in 2019. 
  • 80% of the 20 measured markets sold a larger share of Happy Meal items containing recommended food groups in 2019 than in 2018. 

“These results speak to the power of cross-sector collaboration to bring rapid change on a global scale,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “By leveraging McDonald’s reach with Healthier Generation’s public health expertise, our actions are providing families across the United States and beyond with the options they need to make healthier choices.” 

Healthier Generation’s initial voluntary agreement with McDonald’s resulted in a 15 percentage point increase in the share of Happy Meals served with milk, water or juice over five years, as well as over 250 million sides of apple slices served in the United States in 2018 alone. Two years ago, the organizations announced an expansion of McDonald’s efforts with five new goals to offer more balanced meals, simplify ingredients, increase transparency with Happy Meal nutrition information, reinforce responsible marketing practices to children, and leverage innovative marketing to help impact the purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food groups in Happy Meals.   

“Since announcing our Global Happy Meal Goals in 2018, we’re proud of the progress we’ve made in providing families around the world access to more balanced Happy Meal Menu options,” said Julia Braun, McDonald’s Director of Global Nutrition. “We know how important it is to give parents menu choices they can feel good about feeding their children. We recognize there’s always more work to do in this space, and we remain committed to using our size and scale to support children and families as we continue to evolve the Happy Meal.” 

This report marks the halfway point for the Global Happy Meal Goals, which McDonald’s has pledged to achieve in all markets by the end of 2022. The markets where measurement is taking place are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  To view the full report, visit www.healthiergeneration.org/mcdonaldscommitments.  

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About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation believes every child deserves a healthy future. For 15 years, Healthier Generation has empowered kids to develop lifelong healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them support their physical, social and emotional health. Driven by our passion that all young people will live healthier lives, our work has reached more than 29 million kids across the country. To learn more and help make a difference, visit HealthierGeneration.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter.   

About McDonald’s 
McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with over 38,000 locations in nearly 120 countries. Approximately 93% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local businessmen and women. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mcdonalds


Media Contact

Krista Washington

Vice President, Brand & Communications | Alliance for a Healthier Generation