"We hope these actions will bring more choices to consumers and uniquely benefit millions of families, which are important steps as we build a better McDonald's", Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook said in the statement.
At present 28 percent of Happy Meal combinations offered meet the company's new nutrition criteria in 20 major markets.
McDonald's said that it will also simplify Happy Meal ingredients by removing artificial flavors, added colors from artificial sources, and reducing artificial preservatives where feasible. Last month, McDonald's rolled out a grilled chicken sandwich in Italy, and locations in Australia and France are exploring vegetable and protein options.
Happy Meals account for roughly 15% of McDonald's sales in the U.S., Reuters's Lisa Baertlein reports. Maybe with the help of changes to their Happy Meals, we won't have to. In June 2018, McDonald's US will hit the new calorie, sugar and fat goals and be 78 per cent compliant on sodium. Cheeseburgers will only be available on request.
Happy Meal beverages are getting a makeover as well.
In a move that might not make kids happy but please their parents, McDonald's is eliminating cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from Happy Meals.
Menu entree choices will include a hamburger, 4-piece and 6-piece Chicken McNuggets. On average, the sugar levels will be reduced by 50 percent, sodium levels will decrease by 17 percent, and saturated fat will be cut by 13 percent.
Happy Meals were born in June 1979 in fact (so really they were around for your entire '80s childhood). It stopped promoting cheeseburgers as part of the Happy Meal in the United Kingdom over ten years ago.
In 2013, McDonald's removed soda from its Happy Meal menus.
The American Heart Association, along with the Clinton Foundation, is a co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
"From day one, Healthier Generation knew our work with McDonald's could influence broad scale improvements to meal options for kids everywhere", said Howell Wechsler, Ph.D., c.e.o. of Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
In December, the chain began offering a new apple juice variety with Happy Meals that it says has 45 fewer calories and half the total sugar than the prior one.