Commitment to Families

Why it matters

As one of the most frequented restaurants in the world, McDonald’s recognizes the opportunity we have with families. In 2013, we began working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive plan for 20 major markets to increase customers’ access to fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and water; many of these markets are ahead of schedule in their progress on those prior commitments.

Over the years, parents have responded enthusiastically to our ingredient and menu changes and we’ve made real progress. When soda was removed from the Happy Meal section of U.S. menu boards, we saw positive shifts in consumer behavior, and the number of Happy Meals served with water, milk, or juice has since increased by 14 percentage points. As of November 2017, and for the first time, more than half of Happy Meals served in the U.S. have included water, milk or juice as the beverage of choice rather than soda and other beverages. We know we can continue making meaningful changes for the millions of families who visit McDonald’s restaurants.

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Our approach | Global Happy Meal goals

Our approach

We are focusing on the ways that we can make a difference for families and kids through our Happy Meals.


Happy Meals
Happy Meals

Focusing on Happy Meals by offering more balanced choices and recommended food groups that kids and parents love.

Happy Meal Readers Book Program
Happy Meal Readers Book Program

Helping inspire a lifelong love of reading for kids through our Happy Meal Readers Book Program.


Leading in the important role we have played for more than 40 years by supporting RMHC® (Ronald McDonald House Charities®), which keeps families with sick children near each other and provides the care and resources they need.


Our Global Happy Meal Goals

We’re listening to and learning from families to find areas where our System has the best opportunity to create positive and meaningful change. In 2018, we announced new, ambitious global goals through 2022 together with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. These Global Happy Meal goals continue our collaboration to focus on Happy Meals, offering more balanced choices that kids and parents love. We aim to offer balanced meals that provide a variety of offerings from recommended food groups, using simpler ingredients so parents can feel good about our Happy Meal menu.


Happy Meal Readers

McDonald’s is using its Scale for Good to help inspire a passion for reading.

Our Happy Meal Readers book program celebrates the joy of reading and offers books as an option for Happy Meal customers. Designed with families in mind, Happy Meal Readers is an important step in our journey of building a better McDonald’s. Our passion for reading dates back to 2001, starting with Sweden first introducing a children’s book offering as part of the Happy Meal bundle. Since then, Happy Meal Readers has expanded to markets across the world. To date, McDonald’s and its Franchisees have distributed close to 450 million books globally through Happy Meal Readers. By making it fun, we can help inspire a lifelong love of reading for kids.


RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charities)

When it comes to supporting families, the Company has played an important role for more than 40 years in keeping families together when their children are sick. McDonald’s is the charity’s Founding Mission Partner. RMHC keeps families together, near the care they need, through more than 365 Ronald McDonald Houses, 241 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, and 50 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles in about 64 countries and regions around the world.  RMHC provides care and resources to millions of children and families each year and saved families over $880M in meal/lodging expenses in 2017 alone.

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Global Happy Meal Goals

Global Happy Meal goals

Download our Global Happy Meal Goals


Goal #1: Offer balanced meals
Ensure 50% or more of the Happy Meal bundle offerings presented on menus (restaurant menu boards, primary ordering screen of kiosks and owned mobile ordering applications) in each market meet McDonald’s Global Happy Meal nutrition criteria of less than or equal to:

  • 600 calories
  • 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • 650 mg of sodium
  • 10% of calories from added sugar

Qualifying Happy Meal bundles must meet all of the above criteria.


Goal #2: Simplify ingredients
Remove artificial flavors and added colors from artificial sources in Happy Meals, and reduce artificial preservatives where feasible in Happy Meals without sacrificing the safety, taste, quality or value of our food. Consumers’ tastes and preferences continue to evolve and we will continue to seek new ways to simplify ingredients where we can.


Goal #3: Be transparent with Happy Meal nutrition information
McDonald’s has made a continuous effort to meet consumers’ desires to have easy access to the nutrition information for the menu items we serve. Our goal is to ensure that nutrition information for Happy Meals is available and accessible through all owned websites and mobile apps used for ordering where they exist.


Goal #4: Market responsibly
All Happy Meal bundles advertised to children will meet our new nutrition criteria (as stated in Goal #1) and continue to meet any existing applicable local/regional advertising pledges.


Goal #5: Leverage innovative marketing to help increase purchase of foods and beverages that contain recommended food Groups in Happy Meals
We will continue to leverage innovative marketing – which may include things like packaging and promotions – to generate excitement for fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and/or water to help increase purchases of foods and beverages containing these food groups in Happy Meals.


Meaningful changes

By the end of 2022, we aim to achieve these goals in all markets globally,1 with measurement and reporting of progress among 20 major markets representing nearly 85% of our global sales. The 20 major markets are: the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, U.K. France, Germany, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. We will work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, along with an independent third party, to develop an approach to measure and publicly report progress every two years.

Currently, 28% of the meals already offered on Happy Meal menu boards in these 20 major markets meet these nutrition criteria, and with these new goals in place, we will be making changes to the Happy Meal. In order to reach the 50% goal from where we are today, markets can make a number of different changes to their menus, including reformulation, adding new items or removing items from the Happy Meal menu.

1. It is important to note that our global System consists of both Company-owned and franchised restaurants. The franchised restaurants are operated by conventional Franchisees, developmental licensees (i.e., a Franchisee that operates most or all of the McDonald’s-branded restaurants in a specific market) or pursuant to other licensing arrangements, and make up the majority of McDonald’s-branded restaurants around the world. Our Franchisees make independent decisions for their own business organizations, subject to their obligations under the operative franchise or other license agreements and core standards required for the McDonald’s brand. McDonald’s does not prescribe all business requirements for our Franchisees, but rather we work in collaboration with them to raise awareness and provide tools and opportunities to assist them as part of the brand’s food journey. We also work with Franchisees to mutually set objectives and targets and to help monitor their related progress. As a result, while we will encourage Franchisees to participate in the important goals outlined in this document, we cannot guarantee their compliance. However, we can drive change in our Company-owned restaurants so much of this work will start with Company-owned restaurants, with a plan to demonstrate success and expand measurement, and that will ultimately help to support independent Franchisees that choose to join us on this journey.


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