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Fast food giant McDonald’s came out today and said it was making, “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices.” (Caps are from McDonald’s, not me.)

From the press release:

“The comprehensive plan aims to help customers — especially families and children — make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald’s or eating elsewhere. Menu changes underway include the addition of more nutritionally-balanced choices that meet McDonald’s reputation for great taste and affordability, along with an increased focus on providing nutrition information that enable customers and employees to make simple, informed menu decisions.”

The one change that caught my eye was to the proverbial Happy Meal. (I say proverbial because I would be very unhappy if my kid ate one of those things.) The Happy Meal makeover means it has a smaller portion of French fries and everyone will automatically get a bag of apples. The change also includes two additional drink choices: “fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk.” The impact, according to the press release, is an “estimated 20 percent reduction in calories of the most popular Happy Meals, also reducing fat in those meals.”

The release goes on and on. You can check it out here. You can probably tell I am underwhelmed at the announcement, especially after reading the study out of Harvard University that found it’s not how much you eat, but what you eat that makes you fat. The New York Times did a great analysis of the study this past weekend. The bottom line: Certain foods are bad; other foods are good. Eat more of the bad foods and you’ll get fat. Eat more of the good foods and your weight will stay the same or go down. And guess what’s at the top of the “bad foods” list: French fries. From the story:

“Increased consumption of this food alone was linked to an average weight gain of 3.4 pounds in each four-year period. Other important contributors were potato chips (1.7 pounds), sugar-sweetened drinks (1 pound), red meats and processed meats (0.95 and 0.93 pound, respectively), other forms of potatoes (0.57 pound), sweets and desserts (0.41 pound), refined grains (0.39 pound), other fried foods (0.32 pound), 100-percent fruit juice (0.31 pound) and butter (0.3 pound).”

Whew. So, let’s look at a Happy Meal: Hamburger or chicken nuggets (both on the “bad” list, sugar-sweetened drink such as chocolate milk or soda (again, bad food), and apples. Looking at it that way is McDonald’s actually doing anyone a favor with this announcement? I think not.

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