Happy and healthier meals?

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Bowing to government scrutiny and public concerns fueled by advocacy groups, McDonald s took steps today to make children s Happy Meals happier by boosting nutritional content while reducing calorie and sodium content. "Fast foods have long been the easy bull s-eye of the current obesity epidemic," notes ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, and we have long advocated that fast food should not be demonized as bad food, and indeed can be incorporated into a balanced diet. This, he says, may be an effective compromise.

Reformulating the meals to include fresh fruit and reduced portion sizes which will lower the amount of sodium and calories may be a positive step toward helping parents offer broader food choices to their kids, says ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava. But ultimately, the question will be whether kids will be happy with these new happy meals. For that, the proof will be in the eating, she adds.

Other fast food chains have recently taken similar steps to reduce calorie counts in meals marketed to kids by participating in a new effort of the National Restaurant Association s, an initiative called The Kids Live Well.