MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
As NPR's Allison Aubrey reports, the changes are part of a broader plan aimed at reducing fat, calories and criticism.
ALLISON AUBREY: If you've ever gone through the drive-through with a minivan full of kids in tow, you know how it goes. They want the full sack of french fries. It's hard for parents to say no. But now, McDonald's vice president of communications, Ben Stringfellow, says the new Happy Meal creates the best of both worlds.
BEN STRINGFELLOW: When you have a combination of a right-sized french fry for children as well as introducing apples into that mix as well, then parents can feel good about that choice. And we think it's a really good match.
AUBREY: Stringfellow says customers will start to see the new, 1.1 ounce serving of french fries beginning this September. And in promising to include some kind of fresh produce in every Happy Meal, McDonald's is not likely to force the limits of finicky kids' palettes.
STRINGFELLOW: You know, a number of options that we've looked at include pineapple spears and raisins and carrot sticks.
AUBREY: So where are you heading with that? Would there be - I don't know - McBroccoli or...
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
AUBREY: These incremental steps, aimed at nudging Americans to make better choices, are a sign of progress, according to Eileen Kennedy. She's a nutrition researcher at Tufts University.
EILEEN KENNEDY: We know very clearly, from consumer research, that consumers react better to positives rather than negatives. So rather than saying don't, don't, don't, providing healthier options in the Happy Meal is a terrific move in the right direction.
AUBREY: Here is Mrs. Obama talking about the challenge just last week, when she announced that food retailers are committing to sell more produce, particularly in underserved areas.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Studies have shown that people who live in communities with greater access to supermarkets eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. And they have lower rates of obesity.
AUBREY: If all the conversations about healthy eating translated to easy action, people like Kelly Brownell might be out of work. He heads the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. He says one huge challenge is that kids are getting mixed messages.
KENNEDY: The average preschool child sees more than a thousand advertisements a year for fast food.
AUBREY: And it's effective. McDonald's lover Chris Wachter(ph) stopped in for lunch today at a McDonald's in downtown D.C. His reaction to plan for a healthier Happy Meal?
CHRIS WACHTER: If you're reducing the size of the Happy Meal, are you reducing the price to go with it?
AUBREY: Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.