McDonald's to Kids: Apple Slices For All, Whether or Not You Want Them

McDonald’s nudges kids to eat more fruit, fewer fries after being given a good shove by regulators

Every Happy Meal shall henceforth contain apple slices, according to a decree from McDonald's HQ today, which boasts that the change is part of "a comprehensive plan [that] aims to help customers—especially families and children—make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald's or eating elsewhere."

And while USA Today reports that the company is claiming the apple incursion is "absolutely not" a response to growing regulatory threats from local, state, and federal governments, the Associated Press is reporting that First Lady Michelle Obama is pleased. The redesigned meals also happen to come within striking distance of the standards crafted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, initially designed to make existing Happy Meals illegal within the borders of the City by the Bay.

Apples have been on offer since 2004, of course. But no longer will American parents be forced to choose between a Happy Meal that includes McDonald’s signature salty, delicious fries or one that replaces those fries with fruit. In a move that can only be described as Solomonic, McDonald's has decided that Happy Meals will include both—a wee serving of deep fried spuds (1.1 ounces, down from the current 2.4) and a baggie of pre-sliced apples (sans the creepy caramel dipping sauce now on offer). Happy Meals will also default to include low-fat milk rather than soda.

When customers were offered the choice, only 11 percent opted for apples over fries for their kids, despite the fact that 88 percent were aware of the healthier alternative. All things being equal, McDonald’s might have interpreted the slow uptake on the apple option as evidence that people don’t come to the Golden Arches when they want to eat healthy (or even faux-healthy) and sent the fruit the way of the McRib.

But all things are not equal. Hysteria about childhood obesity continues to mount, along with an ever growing impulse by regulators to blame commerical food providers for the problem. So governments (and activists who have legislators’ ears) nudge McDonald’s to include healthier options. That accomplished, the nudgers set out to convert those options into defaults. It’s not hard to see demands to remove the fry option altogether are close on the heels of this concession. And always the threat of binding legal requirements lurk in the background.

But when the company itself protests that it is making changes in kids’ meals purely in response to customer demand to enjoy “more food groups” and have their fast food chain of choice “create nutritional awareness,” it’s hard to tell where coercion begins and voluntary change ends. McDonald’s is one of those brands, like Wal-Mart, that gets consistently hammered for being the biggest, baddest guy out there, even as the chain scrambles to stay ahead of the game, become the good guy, or at least be left alone.

And whenever a health or safety measure is instituted “for the children,” you can bet that an adult-sized version is lurking nearby. And lo and behold, amidst the crowing about apples for kiddies this tidbit has mostly been ignored: McDonald’s will be reducing sodium in its meals across the board by 15 percent in the next four years. The chain has also hired a third-party firm to report on promised additional progress to reduce sugars, fat, and calories by 2020.

The food scientists/powerful wizards working around the clock at McDonald’s HQ will certainly do their best to minimize the impact of these promises on the taste of McDonald’s food. But today’s announcements are a perfect example of how moves to protect kids wind up taking choices away from adults (in this case, based on science that is shaky at best).

McDonald's changes are voluntary, but they happened because McDonald's exists in a world where trans fat bans are a reality, and junk food taxes are fodder for The New York Times op-ed page. Regulating food intended for kids is an easier sell, but the state is really just taking away parents’ choices. And once adults are no longer free to choose for their kids, why let them go on choosing for themselves?

For now, McDonald’s still serves (a few) fries to kids, and the kids are free to toss the apples. Parents can even still cobble together an old-style Happy Meal for Junior, if they are so inclined, subbing out soda for milk and nixing the apples. And Dad can add extra salt to his fries. The iron fist of the state may not be writing McDonald’s menu, but neither is the invisible hand.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Tim||

    My kid likes the apple slices. I'm guessing that McD's coats their slices with an addictive and delicious drug.

  • Almanian||

    Duh - the apple slices are coated with french-fry grease! Tasty, delicious, french-fry grease...

  • Paul||

    They contain nicotine, a substance the much-maligned tobacco companies used on their apple slices.

  • Michelle||

    Your kind actually enjoys the apple slices? Better replace them with broccoli.

  • Alan||

    I like the apple slices, too.

    In fact, I had pretty much given up on McDonald's until they started offering some non-greasy choices. I like their fries and burgers as much as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I want only fries and burgers. The apple slices and the parfaits are great when I want something that isn't quite so heavy.

    As for the "nudge" idea, I think it's great. The default choice matters - and as long as anyone can choose what they like, starting with the presumption of a good choice isn't a bad idea. I know that sometimes I will go with the default just because I don't want to spend three minutes with the clerk explaining what changes to make to a meal, and I'm sure many others are the same way. Fries or apple slices? Meh, whatever.

    One bit of good news on the choice of drink front, however: just last night I came across something I hadn't seen before, a fountain drink machine from Coca-Cola that allows over 100 different choices, including 7 or 8 flavors of Powerade, either regular or zero calorie. If that technology is expanded to juice, milk, and other brands, I see room for much more choice in the future.

    http://www.coca-colafreestyle.com/

  • ||

    I sure hope that McRib comment is premature. I look forward to the twice annual two week parade of McRibs on my dinner table.

    And there may be more to this story than meets the eye. With all the flooding in the upper Midwest causing a drop in production of both wheat and spuds, potato prices are skyrocketing, while those for apples are dropping considerably due to a bumper crop this year and an abundance of stored water nearly assuring a great 2012 season as well.

    Methinks McDonalds may just be afraid to say the move is profit-driven, for fear that they will be labelled an "evul corporashun" by the dipshit-in-chief or his hypocrite of a wife.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    We need to stage an intervention for you. Maybe fly in some real BBQ from Corky's in Memphis.

    The McRib:BBQ::McDouble:Hamburgers. You may like the taste of them, but they don't taste nothing like the food they are named after.

    I always felt bad for the franchisees in Memphis when the McRib promotion was going on. They had to promote that piece of crap sandwich, all the while knowing that the only people buying them were doing so only to poison their neighbor's dog.

  • SIV||

    I like Topps Bar-B-Q in Memphis. It's priced like McDonalds and tastes better than those nasty powder coated ribs from Corky's.

  • PACW||

    Gosh, I hope there was actual profit motive involved. But proudly admitting to being interested in profits would be just too much to wish for I guess.

  • Old Mexican||

    And while USA Today reports that the company is claiming the apple incursion is "absolutely not" a response to growing regulatory threats from local, state, and federal governments, the Associated Press is reporting that First Lady Michelle Obama is pleased.


    "The new Dietary Commissar is very pleased with the efforts made by the Bureau of Happy Meals to deliver a dietary supplement which is in accordance to the Socialist lifestyle!"

    "Next, we shall all trim our hair according to the Socialist lifestyle!"

    [I always get a kick out of that!]

  • Ska||

    The country's official hairstyles did allow men over 50 years old to grow their upper hair up to 7 cm long, to disguise balding.

    But their, uh, lower hair had to be shorter than 5cm, to continue promotion of lemon parties.

    Alternatively:
    I don't care how long you grow your lower hair, a combover is always a bad idea.

  • ||

    By refusing to condemn them, I am going to assume that you support lemon parties.

    You. Sick. Fuck.

  • Ska||

    It's Asia, aren't they all lemon parties?

  • Pip||

    I thought Lemon Parties were that sex thing middle-schoolers do. You know, that thing with a lemon.

  • 3 Wolf Moon T||

    You know, Lemon Party -

    "Their 2004 national convention produced a platform of policies which were 'placed in small green plastic boxes and sold to industrial pig farms in Mexico', according to a large party spokeswoman."

    The best part of that is the "large party spokeswoman"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_party

  • ||

    7 cm? That's a little less than 3 inches. Not enough for a really good combover. To do a Trump you need at least 8 inches or so.

  • Barney The Frank||

    I've got 8 inches and would do Trump anytime!

  • Almanian||

    I'd boycott Happy Meals based on this action...if I ate them.

    As it is, McDonald's is about a once-every-two-months experience for me anymore. McDouble and McChicken - two bucks - you can't BEAT that.

    Oh, and a couple burger patties (just the meat) for my big Lab Blue - he loves going for rides, and the burger is a reward for being an awesome dog.

  • Robert||

    Do Labs actually come in blue? Is it some optic trick?

  • ||

    I assumed it was some animatronic dog he had purchased from IBM.

  • ||

    He had the blue genes from a blue tick healer injected in his dog's ass.

  • Barney The Frank||

    "....injected in his dog's ass."
    Now you're talking.

  • Ted S.||

    I figured he was actually feeding the meat to his Labatt Blue.

    Why he would do this, I don't know.

  • ||

    I prefer my beer with that double-juiced-in burger goodness.

  • ||

    McDouble and McChicken - two bucks - you can't BEAT that.

    You mean a buck each, right? Shirley prices are not double on whichever Left coast you live?

  • But don't call me...||

    ...Shirley

  • STEVE SMITH||

    TWO BUCKS TOTAL!! EVEN STEVE SMITH FIGURE THIS OUT!! NOW WHO WANT RAPE FIRST?

  • Leslie Nielson||

    Don't call me Surely!

  • Barney The Frank||

    "you can't BEAT that."
    I can beat it if I want to.

  • A sore dick||

    You can't beat me.

  • juris imprudent||

    It is indeed a no-win scenario. Either McD was evilly withholding the healthy alternative until pressured to do otherwise, or they have figured out how to make more profit off of apples than potatoes. Which is the lesser evil?

  • ||

    See my comment above. Potatos are going up. Look for the price of chips, fries and the like to climb at least 25% in the next 6 months.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    One bad season should not factor in to a potentially long term policy like this. Maybe next year the apples will be the scarce product.

  • cynical||

    Maybe next year they will bring fries back to the fore.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Michelle Obama is in the pocket of Big Apple (the lobby so nice they named it twice).

  • ||

    and the kids are free to toss the apples


    They should be free to toss the apples at Michele Obama, Michael Bloomberg and the San Francisco city council.

  • Ronald McDonald||

    ....they are also free to toss their cookies!

  • ||

    You know, this bullshit pseudo-litigation probably has little, if anything, to do with this move. More likely, the increasing health-consciousness of consumers--especially parents--is driving this. That's supposedly been affecting the fast food business in general.

  • Gibby||

    I msi the old McLard sandwich.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I miss the Arch Deluxe. at least, my teenage self does. they were a $1 with a coupon.

  • ||

    The only time I eat their food anymore is for breakfast. McMuffin or maybe a burrito. And, even more rarely, on the family road trip, where I will eat their food for lunch or dinner if we can't find anything else.

    Used to eat there all the time when I was younger. Filet O' Fish, Big Mac, and fries galore!

  • Chupacabra||

    March 2004 - the last time I punished my digestive system with the so called "food" from McDonald's.

    NEVER FORGET!!!!

  • ||

    I eat fast food maybe once a month or so. But I'm old enough to remember when they cooked the fried in beef tallow, not vegetable oil. Then everyone got paranoid about saturated fat and switched to veg. oils--not such a good move, as it turned out.

  • ||

    Fried = fries. And they tasted MUCH better fried in tallow.

  • SIV||

    I think they quit the beef tallow in 1991. Before that McDonalds fries were the best thing available from a national fast food chain restaurant.

  • Realist||

    Yes, sir.

  • ||

    Fucking bureaucratic nanny faggots.

    They'll use this to say "Look! We're not eliminating choices, we're just offering alternatives! Besides, it's the 'free market' that's taking the choices away! See??"

    Seriously, just fucking appoint some "junk food Czar", ban it, and show your true fucking colors.

  • Gibby||

    ...and for the kid, I'll take a Happy Meal and large fries.

  • ||

    Oh, yeah, and two M&M McFlurries.

  • ||

    and point missed..

  • ||

    ....and I'll take four fluorescent light bulbs..

  • ||

    ...and two low-flo shower heads

  • ||

    ..and a cheese-burger with extra salt and deep fried in "trans-fat" ..

  • ||

    ...and a handle of whiskey to go with that bottle of aspirin

  • ||

    The redesigned meals also happen to come within striking distance of the standards crafted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, initially designed to make existing Happy Meals illegal within the borders of the City by the Bay.

    But Minge assured me that "recommendations" were just that, and had nothing to do with coercion at the point of a gun. Who would have guessed?

  • Michelle Obama||

    Once I become Food Czarina, all you cracker-assed bastards will bow to MY dietary guidelines.

    Myself excluded, of course.

  • Barack Obama||

    Um, honey... can I talk to you in private for a moment?

  • Jay Carney||

    Unfortunately, The First Lady misspoke.

    She obviously meant to say, "Once I become Food Czarina, all you cracker-assed bastards will bow to MY dietary guidelines. The President excluded, of course."

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...based on science that is shaky at best...

    That's a pretty kind assessment.

  • ||

    I have warned you BP to be wary of those bearing "science" -

  • ||

    But Alar!!!!!1!11!!!!!1

  • ||

    "Regulating food intended for kids is an easier sell, but the state is really just taking away parents’ choices. "

    True, but it was by giving parents all these choices that we ended up with so many overweight and many times diabetic children. Maybe these "parents" need a little regulation.

  • ||

    Over the past couple of decades, we've had increasing intrusion of government into the privates lives of families, pushing schools and families to comply with a food pyramid based on junk science and activist fear-mongering and during the same period, we've had increasing obesity. Wonder if there's a connection? Maybe government needs a little regulation.

  • FLAPPY THE EAGLE||

    I WILL EAT THEIR LIVERS!!!

  • Rock Action ||

    Livers are high in cholesterol and fat, Flappy. Especially the human ones that eat at McDonald's. Be careful, or you'll wind up Slacky The Scavenger.

  • Robert||

    Are you Warty's buddy too, Flappy?

  • Rock Action ||

    I can see Flappy, smoking a joint, plowing into some McDonald's fries, forgetting about showing up at the rock to peck the accursed mortals to death all while cursing his father's predestined role for him, unhappy he can't just hang out with his friend Steve Miller.

    Flappy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r577ytYTZM

    His father: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hawk_Is_Howling

  • Shorter Emily||

    Parents should have their ability to choose things for themselves and their children taken away, because their choices are not conforming to those I personally would make, or to the recommendations made by Top. Men. in the government.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Agricultural subsidies and paternalist programs such as the "food pyramid" (eat tons of carbohydrates!) are responsible for the increase in the percentage of overweight individuals.

  • sunny black||

    "we ended up with so many overweight and many times diabetic children. "
    -- and you think the kids ended up this way because parents were given too many choices?? it has nothing to do with eating fast-food more than once a week OR kids living sedentary lifestyles?? it's all the fault of mcdonald's, marching parents into their restaurants with a loaded gun to their heads, and force-feeding the kids their burgers and fries?

  • ||

    WHO. FUCKING. CARES?!?!

  • Jim||

    I desperately want the nanny bastards to actually set up shop in several McDonalds, and interview people about why they aren't currently taking the apple option.

    I want to see the exhasperation and disgust on their elitist faces when they discover that the hideous, overweight, ignorant proles know that the fucking fries are unhealthy, but order them anyway, because they want to. I want them to be forced to just tell people point-blank that they cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves, and must be treated as wayward children.

  • ||

    I care because its fucking sad to see the downfall of our country like this. I was at the beach this weekend and it was in full view- entire families turned beach whales sitting eating nothing but junk. I feel bad for the kids.

  • ||

    It's not the type of food people are eating. Not at all. I ate fast food like crazy well into my 20s, and I've never been overweight. What's different today is that people are far less active, as a whole, and that a larger percentage just eat larger quantities.

    Also, one thing that has to have had an effect is the demand for a quart of soda with every meal. That is different. As is that milkshake franchise out of Seattle.

  • ||

    Do you really think that there is a higher percentage of chubby kid today than in 1981?

    Methinks the narrative gets in the way of the facts.

  • skr||

    It sure looks that way to me whenever I happen to be driving past an elementary school that is letting out for the day. Seriously, god damn!!!

  • ||

    Actually, I do, though only in the anecdotal sense. Seems like there are more fatties around than there used to be, though I think the media exaggerates the problem quite a bit.

  • Chipotle||

    Do you really think that there is a higher percentage of chubby kid today than in 1981?

    Yes. A lot more Mexican kids than in 1981. But God forbid we admit to any ethnic differences in body type.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    ^THIS^.

    Around my usual comfort zone, there doesn't seem to be a large percentage of fat people at all, and most of the fat ones are also old. There may, however, be plenty of thick/muscular people whom inaccurate government standards would classify as "overweight".

  • ||

    I have been told that at being about two bucks, 5'10", and 22% body fat that I was bordering on "obesity" by a few different doctors. The formula that was always used was to subtract the circumference of my neck from the circumference of my waste. To lower my BF%, I was told I needed to stop working out my core and start working out my neck, you know, so they could subtract more and get a lower number.

  • Byron||

    "circumference of my waste"

    childish lol

  • ||

    One point that is getting missed in all of this is that black people tend to have thicker bones and more muscle mass than white people. This is not a racist observation--anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around folks of both races knows that this is true. Thus the BMI measurement tends to overestimate the prevalence of obesty in black people.

  • ||

    BMI is a fucking joke. A water chamber is typically much more accurate an assessment. Based on the formulas I've seen, it just gives you a number based off input of height and weight. Take any measurement using that bullshit with a grain of salt, regardless of your genetic make-up.

  • Michael Bloomberg||

    Did you say a grain of salt ?

  • Rich||

    the demand for a quart of soda with every meal

    ^THIS^.

  • T||

    I suspect the ever embiggenment of the soda size has a lot more to do with people being big lardasses than most would credit. I am glad I learned at an early age to never pollute my essence with carbonated soft drinks.

  • skr||

    only pure grain alcohol and rainwater thank you very much.

  • ||

    I remember the "large" Coke at McDonald's being the size of a medium today. In fact, I remember even further back a large Coke that would be a small today.

    I don't drink much soda these days, but even back when I did, it wasn't usually by the gallon. There were some times when I polished off most of a two liter, but those were rare occasions, even when I ate prodigious amounts of food. Used to drive my fat friend nuts when I'd consume mass quantities and gain nothing.

  • Aquafina hunger farce||

    Most of a restaurant's profits are in the beverages. The best scam ever was bottled water.

  • ||

    That's for damned sure.

  • cynical||

    I'm not sure why sizes are even that relevant for soft-drinks, though, if you're dining in -- you fix the damn thing yourself, and you get as many refills as you want.

  • ||

    Yeah it always cracks me up to see someone dining in at a fast-food joint and ordering a large.. suckers.

  • Rock Action ||

    You know why they might to do that? To take it to go...you eat in, drink your uberlarge drink, and then get more to go...

    I swear I've never done that, nor been overweight, nor jittered all the way to my destination from the caffeine.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "never pollute my essence with carbonated soft drinks"

    YOU'RE GAY.

  • Nipplemancer||

    about 6-7 years ago I was near 200lbs and drinking at least 2 gal. of cola a day. I didn't eat unhealthy and avoided fast food, I just loved me some soda. I quit drinking the stuff and dropped 40lbs in a few short months without adding exercise or changing my diet in any other way except cutting the soda. Now I only drink beer, water, and the occasional iced tea (unsweetened).

  • Nipplemancer||

    ps, I also rarely get heartburn anymore, whereas when I was drinking all that soda, I had a tub of antiacids in the car, in my desk, and strategically located around the house.

  • Ted S.||

    I don't like carbonated beverages, so I don't drink any cola.

    Unfortunately, I could still stand to lose some weight (or, perhaps preferably, replace fat with muscle). :-(

  • Robert||

    Of course it's not the type of food. Consider the theoretic effect on a person's weight of eating one cracker in addition to every meal, over the course of 10 years. If the numbers are really that sensitive, any explanation involving dietary changes like the ones commonly discussed explains too much.

    Like the business about soda. If sugared soda is making the avg. person fat, why aren't the people drinking only diet soda losing so many lbs./yr.?

    Something is regulating our appetites, and minor changes in eating are compensated for by other changes.

  • Turnkey||

    There is something to that. I think the current winner is the leptin guy who got a nobel. A sugar/refined carb altering perception of intake.

  • Jim||

    Be careful, because that's where shitty legislation comes from. Someone feels bad (and is disgusted by fat people having the audacity to show themselves in public), and decides that on this basis, it is right and good to use force against those whose lifestyle choices he disagrees with.

    Thus tyranny spreads.

  • T||

    I don't want to use force. I just wear this. It's amazingly effective at pissing off chubbos.

  • Real T||

    On the back:

    LIKE I DO

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What low income shitty beach are you attending?

  • ||

    at the beach ... entire families turned beach whales sitting eating

    Going To The Beach: They're Doing It Wrong.

  • cw||

    Well, at least from now on I won't have to ask parents whether they want their kids to have fries or apples.

  • cw||

    A little anecdote: about 90 percent of the time when I ask parents, they opt for fries. What has surprised me is that it is usually the child who wants the apples.

  • T||

    The 'rents want to snitch a few fries from junior.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Yes, it is surprising indeed that there are some parents who still respect their child's autonomy.

  • pmains||

    I think the surprising part cw is alluding to is that parents want french fries and that the children choose apples. I didn't read cw's comment to mean that parents insist on their children eating french fries instead of apples and don't think that's a likely interpretation.

  • sunny black||

    A little anecdote -- 90% of the time my kids have a preference for cookies, fries, soda, and all manner of junk food. occasionally i indulge them, but often not. and quite often i must insist they finish the vegetables on their plate or have a fruit as a snack instead of a chocolate bar. but that's just me being a parent.

  • ||

    The notion that apples are some kind of health food is risible.

    They are mostly sugar, plus a smidge of fiber and maybe some vitamin C.

  • ||

    Well, I'm not sure I agree, and I certainly will hold the majestic apple up against fried potatoes.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    They are both basically starch.

  • ||

    If I fried the apple before I ate it, perhaps there would be an argument.

  • Paul||

    And surreptitiously replaced it with a potato.

  • ||

    OK I think there is no such thing as "good carbs" and "bad carbs." Carbs are all carbs. They all raise blood glucose and the fructose--whether it is from HFCS or organic fruit--is processed in the liver which elevates triglycerides and encourages insulin resistance. All carbs increase insulin levels which is not good. Rather than worry about good vs bad carbs just limit all carbs and be done with it. Keep them under 80-90 grams per day and you should be fine.

  • Turnkey||

    There was the study awhile back where people who were given apples instead of plums (both dried) lost weight when they were on the apples.

    Apparently fruits have a lot more to them than the obvious macro and micro nutrient parts.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....eight+Loss)

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Milk with cheeseburgers sounds absolutely disgusting.

  • ||

    Yeah, it goes better with the fried chicken.

  • ||

    Buttermilk and fried chicken. On the fried chicken before it's fried.

  • Robert||

    Cheeseburgers do go better with the fried chicken.

  • ||

    "You know what would go good on this burger? I ham sandwich. And then for breakfast, we replace the bun with donuts."

  • pmains||

    Hamburgers and milkshakes are very common. I'm sure I've had countless homemade hamburgers with milk on the side. So long as we're not dunking the hamburgers, I don't see the problem.

    Also, so long as we don't insist on ruining a perfectly good hamburger, rendering it inedible by putting cheese on it, it sounds fine to me.

  • Ted S.||

    In Finland, it's common to drink milk with dinner, even for adults.

  • Tom of Finland||

    That's not milk.

  • Robert||

    Yes, just adding a shot of...uh...milk from my flask to this coffee.

  • ||

    Cows milk is for baby cows.

  • bubba||

    I love the change. My kids like the fries, but they don't eat all of them.
    Offering BOTH is an awesome idea.

    YAY McD's!

  • ||

    My kids never get fries with their Happy Meals. So are you telling me McDonald's is actually forcing fries ( not apples) on my children?

  • ||

    Despite the old adage, apples are not healthy foods. Almost all calories from apples (and most other fruits) come from sugars. The demonization of fats and the recommendation to eat lots of grains, vegetables, and fruits (packed with starches and sugars) are the main causes of increased obesity in the USA over the past 30 years.

    Fats are your friends. They are slower to digest. They provide a strong satiety (I'm full.) signal to the brain that lasts longer than satiety signals from carbohydrates. Fats do not cause spikes in blood sugars and do not promote Type II diabetes. The french fries are healthier than the apple slices.

  • ||

    So something loaded with carbs and saturated fat is healthier than something with carbs and fiber. I assume your medical degree is from Hollywood Upstairs Medical School.

  • np||

    Err, it's not that simple at all.
    And no, fries aren't healthier apples.

    Ironically, the last place you'd hear such crap are from some of those who initially thought the same as just about all of the body building world now has rejected the celebrated Atkins diet.... and Atkins himself died of heart disease. And this I believe not just from listening to studies, but mostly from personal experience of their own or their buddies.

    You go ahead and eat nothing but saturated fats, high cholesterol foods, cut out all the carbs and see how you feel after a while, even if you do loose weight. Ya like smelling like shit? Constipation? Mood swings and not thinking straight? (funny you mention the brain because it almost exclusively relies on glucose and needs a constant, albeit small supply) Getting sick? Kidney stones? Ketosis?

    That said, I hope sales of the "hey-it's-uncoerced" healthier happy meals just tank.

  • ||

    "about all of the body building world now has rejected the celebrated Atkins diet"

    Have you ever seen the training most body-builders go through before a competition? Most diets are VERY low-carb, high-protein. The french fries are still carbohydrates and cholesterol, but fat and protein is a staple of body-building and power-lifting.

  • ||

    Yeah, most bodybuilders eat nothing but meat, eggs, and non starchy veggies before a competition.

  • ||

    Spinach, chicken, and egg-whites are the mainstay.

  • ||

    Uh, have you ever been around bodybuilders on high carb diets??? I have, and you can smell them coming from a mile away.

    The more protein and fat I eat the better I feel. YMMV. I can also assure you, through experience, that eating lots of grains will make you a shitting machine.

    It's interesting that before bodybuilders started using tons of steroids and other drugs, it was common wisdom that cutting carbs was the way to get cut.

  • np||

    Well I'd be one of those if you think some bread is "high carb". But other than that, I'm not talking about a high carb diet. I'm talking about moderate, mostly low-glycemic carb for most carb intake and appropriate glucose replenishment post-workout.

    The smell might be garlic or other high sulfur herbs. But that's not the smell of ketosis. This was in fact, the #1 unpublicized complaint in Atkins' own research with his diet. #2, if I recall, was constipation.

    can also assure you, through experience, that eating lots of grains will make you a shitting machine.
    .. which is in fact, a good thing.

    Cutting carbs, and more so high-glycemic carbs, will get you cut only when there is excess fat to burn since obviously, the primary resource for energy is carbs, and after exhausting that, is fat then used. However again, that's only a temporary function, an evolutionary design for starvation situations hence the side effects of its reliance

  • ||

    Well from a quality of life perspective, there is something to be said for being able to live your life without worrying about how close you are to a toilet all the time.

  • ||

    The key is increasing the ratio of protein to carbs. On that "carbs are better for energy", that's pretty much bullshit to a lot of bodybuilders. Your body will metabolize fat pretty quickly compared to carbohydrates.

    "will get you cut only when there is excess fat to burn since obviously

    No, most people lose a lot of retained water and get increased definition through low-carbing it, even with low BF percentages.

  • ||

    The brain does not need dietary carbs to function as long as you eat enough protein and fat. Gluconeogenisis--google it.

  • np||

    It only uses protein as energy as a last resort. Blood glucose is its primary source

  • ||

    Then how did humans function for most of their history, e.g. before the advent of agriculture and concentrated carbs--which is relatively an extremely recent event in human evolution?

  • Rock Action ||

    Yeah, but apples compared to french fries? Even the high-fat loving paleos will eat apples, and will choose them over potatoes, a food they say is starch-laden and carb-heavy. Apples occur naturally, are dense in ratio to their calories, and are reasonably high in fiber.

    I did look up McD's fries, and while they have no cholesterol (?!) and aren't completely awful for you in small servings, an apple, for the modern diet, seems to be a better choice* than a fried potato, all things constant.

    *standard libertarian disclaimer here...

  • np||

    You don't need modern agriculture to get it from plant matter

    Aborginals and Kalahari bushmen have had the same diet and lifestyle mostly unchanged

    The 'Bushmen' are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20,000 years. Their home is in the vast expanse of the Kalahari desert.
    ... The Bushmen are hunter-gatherers, who for thousands of years supported themselves in the desert through these skills. They hunt - mainly various kinds of antelope - but their daily diet has always consisted more of the fruits, nuts and roots which they seek out in the desert.

    Anthropology papers, with some detailed dietary observations

    R.A. Gould covering Australian Aboriginals, California Indians, Kalahari Bushmen in
    "The Ecology of Sharing Among Hunter-Gatherers"

    http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/.....havhav.pdf
    - contrary to popular belief, there was a lot less hunting and a lot more gathering; which actually makes sense when you think about it; paper also has food breakdown details

    on Western Desert Australian Aborigines:

    Lee's findings did much to emphasize the importance of plant food collecting in hunter-gatherer economies, although for the !Kung this has mainly to do with the mongongo nut
    ...
    Sharing of plant foods is significant among the Western Desert Aborigines. Like the Bushmen, their diet is primarily vegetarian, with the women providing about 95% of the total diet about 90% of the time, mainly in the form of edible plant staples (see Figure 1).

    But unlike the !Kung, there are no resources to match the mongongo nut, and the Aborigines make out on
    a much more limited menu including a total of only 38 edible plantspecies, seven of which can be regarded as staples (see Figure 2).

    Essentially, it was the dependable efforts of the women as foragers from day to day that provided the bulk of
    the diet, including both plants and small game like lizards, feral cats, and rabbits, thus freeing the men for the chancier business of hunting for larger game like emus and various
    macropods (i.e., kangaroos and wallabies).
    ...
    If one applies quantitative criteria to food procurement, these people should rightly be called "gatherers-and-hunters." Yet the men devote large amounts of time to hunting, only for very poor returns.
    ...
    Behaviorally, I found that each of these staples was collected or harvested and transported back to camp in bulk, then processed and finally distributed and consumed.
    ...
    If these people had to depend entirely on their larger game animals for protein, they would soon find themselves in trouble since the conditions for optimal hunting occur
    infrequently and unpredictably.

    Or, windfalls won't do! Even if the intake of lizards and other small game amounts to no more than a mouthful of meat per person per day, it provides the essential day-to-day requirements for protein and other nutritional elements, such as fats.

    The Central Kalahari Bushmen : A Study of Ecological Anthropology - by Tanaka, Jiro
    http://repository.kulib.kyoto-.....2433/86500
    - more in depth dietary and caloric analysis, etc

    Wild animals are supposed to be less fatty and to have less heat value than the domesticated animals such as cow and pig, and therefore the mean heat value per 100 g. of each animal appeared in Table 10 is tentatively estimated as 150 Cal.: ..
    ...
    In total, a Bushman take 1,800 2,300 Cal., about 2,000 Cal. on
    an average, of heat value by one day's food.
    To know basal metabolic requirements and the daily caloric requirements
    of the Bushmen, I refer the figures which Lee used in 1968a.
    ...
    The per capita yield of foodstuffs during the study period was estimated
    to be about 2,000 Cal. and therefore the CK Bushmen are taking a
    sufficient energy from a daily food intake. The conclusion can be drawn
    that the Bushmen do not lead a standard existence on the edge of starvation as has been commonly supposed.

    Yet a ratio of the heat value of vegetable food to animal food is 5.7 : 1 and it can be said that vegetables
    are by far the better food than animals as a calorie source.
    ...
    Well then what exactly is the importance of meat in the Bushman's
    diet? Obviously it plays a major supplementary role, forming close to 20% of his diet, but besides this quantitative importance, meat also has great qualitative importance. The Bushman himself considers meat the most
    admirable of foods, so much so that he says meat is "the true food"; his
    estimation of it is even higher due to its scarcity
    ...
    From the age of seven or eight, the Bushman chidren begin to learn to
    get food they pick fruit, dig roots, and, in the case of boys, shoot at
    small birds with bow and arrow;
    ...
    The Bushman's diet changes in response to seasonal variations in plant
    growth, but as long as his life is based on gathering food from a limited
    supply of wild plants, he will not be able to live continuously in one
    place. As the main food plants change during the year, the Bushman must
    move from place to place in accordance with the distribution of these
    plants; even if the main food stays the same, he will have to move if the
    supply becomes exhausted in a given location.
    The Bushman must be intimately acquainted with the flora and fauna of
    the Kalahari, knowing when and where to find what kind of plant or animal
    and in what condition. Due to the pattern of rainfall in the Kalahari,
    distribution of plants is extremely localized, and the growth rate also
    varies greatly in slightly separated places. Since it is generally true
    that plants do not grow very densely and that the edible part of the plant
    is small, a single campsite cannot sustain the Bushmen for very long. The
    normal period is from one week to a few weeks. The Bushmen must continuously
    move in search of newly fruiting plants or as the supply around
    their camp is exhausted. Thus such movement can be looked upon, from
    the point of view of the Bushmen's daily life, as a group food-procuring
    activity and as an indispensable element of their hunting and gathering
    existence.
    ...
    The timing and destination of a move by the CK Bushmen are almost 100%
    determined by vegetable food;
    hunting conditions and distribution of game hardly figure at all in such decisions. This is easy to understand in terms of the predominant role of plants in their diet. Moreover, animals, the objects of the hunt, are extremely mobile, and it would be nearly impossible to move along with them.

    Only during the rainy season, when water accumulates in the pans and molapo, do water holes replace plant
    food as determinants of camp location. This represents, however, merely
    about three months out of the year (January-March; cf. Fig. 12).

    (.. so yeah, probably tl;dr)

  • ||

    I think any diet that you or I would approve of would be a vast improvement over what most people eat. I agree that eliminating refined carbs--white flour and sugar--and eating moderately of the rest of the carbs will work fine.

  • R||

    Atkins did not die of heart disease, he died of a head injury. Check your facts.

  • KD||

    I'd say the vegetable oil makes the fries more unhealthy than the apples. If they were still done in tallow, then I'd agree.

  • Chupacabra||

    In other news, fat asses like Mark Bittman are free to choose a Steak Frites dinner, without eliciting scorn from other fat asses like the Big MO.

  • HMFIC||

    When I was a waiter I had this family come in and when the kids got their meatloaf and saw that it came with vegetables they literally started to cry. The whole family was overweight. Given that calories can be produced so cheaply at this point in human history people with the propensity to overeat are in danger. Any move by an industry or government to promote a healthier lifestyle is a credit to our society.

  • ||

    Strong-arming businesses into peddling a more expensive and mostly undesired alternative to their customers is not "promoting health".

  • HMFIC||

    But offering unhealthy food at rock bottom prices is strong-arming the consumer. It is a subtle and not so subtle psychological coercion. This country is based on democracy and that includes the freedom to know that you are buying. Their is this false consciousness that natural man is free independent and self-interested aka selfish (but we don't say selfish because we are a Christian nation). Worship of markets and business as this amazing self correcting/regulating seems idealistic to me.

  • ||

    "But offering unhealthy food at rock bottom prices is strong-arming the consumer"

    Providing a food that people are free to eat as they please is strong-arming consumers? How is a private business taking away the free will of a consumer's dietary habits?

    "This country is based on democracy and that includes the freedom to know that you are buying. "

    If you don't know what you're buying, but you buy it anways, who's fault is that?

    Besides, McDonald's advertises their nutrition online.

    "Worship of markets and business as this amazing self correcting/regulating seems idealistic to me."

    And this has what, exactly, to do with anything? No one is market-worshiping. I just trust a private business to be able to sell me something I want at a price I want, or else they don't get my money.

    For every one of you that looks at this as a good thing, there are an order of magnitudes of others who you are screwing out of a satisfactory exchange.

  • ||

    Basically, since you have no self-control, you want the options forcibly removed from your fat fucking face?

  • Rock Action ||

    Yeah, they do want them forcibly removed. McDonald's knew that the bureaus and the prog pols in certain localities were going to try anything to regulate them, and the most viable administrative conduit the bureaus and pols had in their back pocket, one that was already in place and waiting for an analogous extension from smokes and booze and junk food to fast food, was regulating their advertising to kids. (Can you imagine the advertising dollars and brand identification lost without Ronald and the gang?) So, they've begun to fold. There's no doubt in my mind.

  • ||

    Oh, there's no doubt they're simply trying to appease the Gods. They know that if they don't play game, they'll be extremely limited in what they can both advertise and sell to their customers. I don't blame them for folding. They know what is eventually coming.

  • HMFIC||

    Sy, chill out brother/sister. I believe that in this world there is more than dedicating oneself to getting what one wants at the price they want. I'm not anti capitalist but I believe that the federal government is an important force in keeping corporations in check who often don't worry about the greater moral consequences of their products. I'm not talking about the mom and pop businesses but the power players pushing sugar into kids diets, dumping toxic waste, promoting lifestyles people cannot afford. That type of coercion by big business in my humble opinion is a breach of individual freedom and the government which is actually accountable to the voters is a check against those who try to coerce the masses. The system is not perfect but it is the best system we have.

  • ||

    "I believe that in this world there is more than dedicating oneself to getting what one wants at the price they want"

    Yeah, I know. You already told me the government should Do Something!®

    "I'm not anti capitalist but I believe that the federal government is an important force in keeping corporations in check who often don't worry about the greater moral consequences of their products."

    Whose morals would those be? Your morals? My morals? Which Morals?

    "I'm not talking about the mom and pop businesses but the power players pushing sugar into kids diets..."

    You mean their parents?

    "dumping toxic waste,.."

    You mean like in accordance with government regulations, or did you just pop in a Captain Planet DVD?

    "promoting lifestyles people cannot afford."

    Uh..what? You don't understand the concept of targeted marketing, do you?

    "That type of coercion by big business in my humble opinion is a breach of individual freedom and the government which is actually accountable to the voters is a check against those who try to coerce the masses."

    You have an individual right to not be coerced.. ever? By whom, by what?

    And yet you, for some inexplicably hypocritical reason, favor forced coercion by government on other private people and businesses. I mean, I honestly could give a shit less about it because unlike you, I can exercise my will.

    "The system is not perfect but it is the best system we have."

    You have no clue what you're talking about anymore, do you?

  • HMFIC||

    Sy my brother, trying to make a point to you is like trying to describe red to a person that is color-blind. I mean what kind of idiot protests the notion making Happy Meals healthier? Keep drinking the Corporate kool-aid bro. I'm sure you're going to be wealthy enough one day to take advantage of those tax breaks for the rich you advocate for so strongly. Keep the dream alive and keep voting for losing candidates.

  • ||

    Keep ignoring the arguments at hand, "bro". If all you have left is third-rate ad hominem and non-sequitur, then I've done my job.

    Keep spilling those standard Team Red/Blue talking points around, buddy. Eventually someone might give a shit.

  • HMFIC||

    Well I still have my good looks. HMF out.

  • ||

    Political decision, not business.
    Customers overwhelmingly choose Frys and soft drinks. They do not want processed and packaged apples. They do not want salads. Millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of gross ratings points of advertising dedicated to salads and they cannot break 1.3% of sales. Free people choose to eat burgers and Frys.
    This move will raises food costs, which raises prices, and the result will be that customers will purchase what they want by unbundling the Happy Meals and ordering all the components separately at a lower price.
    McDonald's Corporation understands how the game is played. It was no coincidence that the day after Mr. Thompson met with Valerie Jarrett at the White House that McDonald's received an Obamacare waiver.
    This is a move meant to keep the monster at bay. The customers will continue to purchase what they want to eat no matter what the government or McDonald's Corporation tries to tell them.

  • Knutsack||

    It sure could be looked at as a business decision. Now that junior gets less fries with his meals, parents might "have" to buy another small fry to satiate his desire. Now McDonald's gets the sale of the Happy Meal and the sale of a small fry.

    And I don't have a problem with that. If that's what they want to do, so be it.

  • np||

    If government really, seriously wanted a sure-fire way to get people healthy (also reducing insurance and medicals costs) it's all so very simple:

    Tax incentives (deductions or credits) for healthy people (blood test and physical) This will solve the low income health problem as well, especially if parents also benefits from their kids health. And a flat tax credit would also go a much longer way for lower income folks. This makes people who would not otherwise be interested or motivated at all now care

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Too early for Thanksgiving, but a great place to start in the Epic Meal Time series:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xc5wIpUenQ

    I love these guys. They hoist a hearty fuck-you to the Food Police types.

  • Idiot Savant||

    But won't this decision increase the likelyhood of pedophiles offering children "REAL" McDonalds food?

    I can see a lot of pedophiles taking kids to checkers... gotta eat!

  • Idiot Savant||

    eat horribly unhealthy food for $1, nobody cares... person = happy... health insurance companies don't have to worry about it. Those people just eventually die off, happy, full of fat greasy food, and nobody cares.

    Now that we have to worry about the nation's health, particularly poor people's health... it might be a good idea to stop them from buying so much shit that is gonna cost us more money.

    Oh wait, now I see why they want universal healthcare. Just THINK of all the laws you can make by saying, "It's to lower health care costs"

    Brilliant!

  • tori burch||

    Foods that could possibly be consumed as small as possible

  • ||

    """""I desperately want the nanny bastards to actually set up shop in several McDonalds, and interview people about why they aren't currently taking the apple option.

    I want to see the exhasperation and disgust on their elitist faces when they discover that the hideous, overweight, ignorant proles know that the fucking fries are unhealthy, but order them anyway, because they want to. I want them to be forced to just tell people point-blank that they cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves, and must be treated as wayward children."""""

    I want their ilk to be the first to be fired and permanently prohibited from employment in government if moral leadership ever takes over the federal titan.

    San Francisco is just unbelievable. It's a whole new dimension of statist retardation.

  • colon||

    Apples in combination with proteins and carbs don't digest well. Proper food combining is essential for good health. Doesn't matter how loade the food is in nutrients, if you don't digest it well it won't do your body any good and it will just cause other problems.

  • AJ||

    Nice overreaction to Mickey D's making a change. They will change back if it hurts their bottom line. Way too much drama and innuendo of nanny state--relax. People take the default choice most of the time. If you had a kid you would know fries were default--they don't even ask apples (though if you know they will give it too you) same with pop/juice. A lot of parents are like--shit I can get apples and milk instead?

    This crowd is way too concerned that People have the right to give their toddlers pop and fries. No not even the right--DEMAND that it always be the default option. That is all that is changing--the default option. Mc D's is just making the default choice slightly more healthy--big effing deal

    Plus regardless of your bent the statement "sent the fruit the way of the McRib." is BLASPHEMY!

    LONG LIVE LORD MCRIB!!!

  • Alan||

    I agree. Default choices make a difference. Even I generally go along to get along, unless I have a reason not to - and I was brought up in a family that valued asking questions. Most people grow up in families where asking a question is considered a moral failing, and they consider it a moral duty to take what is offered. For people like that, changing the default option can make a huge difference.

    If they're really concerned, they can still order fries.

  • casquette red bull||

    nice!

  • scarpe Nike Store||

    is good

  • ||

    Why would any one need to go to a McDonald's for an apple?

  • Bill||

    What has me cheesed is that they stopped serving Oranges at our local Wendy's. My kid (and I) don't like apples, but the mandarin oranges? He'd down them quickly.

  • Alan||

    I hadn't realized that Wendy's nixed the mandarin oranges. I loved those when I was a kid.

    Even so, Wendy's generally is the best of the fast food restaurants. More choices, high quality ingredients.

  • ||

    their chili is pretty good, cheap and nutritious

  • jordan shoes||

    goodpost

  • ||

    I am thinking that there may be some other reasons MCD decided to tweek their menu. Look at their stock! Up up and away!

  • nike dunk||

    is good

  • Prent||

    "the state is really just taking away parents’ choices"

    If Ms Mangu-Ward had kids that scream as loud as mine do, she would not call the Happy Meal decision a "parent's choice".

  • sheri2names||

    I laid out clearly what was and was not acceptable. If they behaved unacceptably, we left. In their young years, I limited their choices. Now they may choose freely. They rarely got fries then, and still choose apples over french fries much of the time. But if you made cookies the choice...well, the apples would be gone.

  • sheri2names||

    Both of my daughters could not consume milk for brief phases during their Happy Meal years. Milk is one of the most common allergens, and it's also linked to ear infections in many children, including mine. So McDonald's and the government know what's best for my kids, even better than myself and my doctor? Please.

  • bryan||

    Why is the caramel creepy?

  • mbt zapatos||

    They rarely got fries then, and still choose apples over french fries much of the time.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

  • American||

    This chick is an ugly cunt who needs a nose job BAAAAAAAAAAD.

    She should jump off a building.

    Thanks, just needed to get that off my chest.

  • American||

    Oh and by the way what kind of fucking name is "Mangu-Ward". Gag.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement