Happy Meals: What’s in ’em?

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Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults are considered overweight, and an additional 31 percent are obese.

Fast food companies have been the target of criticism, obesity lawsuits and threats of fat taxes. Their response has been to create new diet-conscious options.

But are these really the best choices? Let’s see what McDonald’s is doing. The Go Active! Happy Meal for adults, launched May 6, includes the choice of 1 of 6 premium salads, bottled water, a Stepometer and a booklet created by Oprah Winfrey’s personal trainer, Bob Greene, that lists walking and exercising tips.

We have used the interactive McDonald’s Bag a Meal online to compare the premium salads. These salads offer 2 choices of chicken, crispy or grilled. The crispy chicken adds another 110-120 calories per serving, mostly in fat. In fact the total fat found in the Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad is 21 grams, or 51% calories from fat. The sodium racks in at almost a half-day supply. And this, like all the others listed above, is without dressing.

The Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette is only 40 calories per serving instead of 120-190 of the regular dressings.

Pedometers can play an important role in helping people to see what their activities are on a daily basis. They can be encouraging to people who have been sedentary for a long time.

Holly Scherer, RD, says, “We encourage our participants to be creative in how they increase activity and that ALL movement counts, even standing up every 30 minutes if you have a sedentary job or getting up to talk to your co-worker rather than emailing.”

We do recommend that everyone takes the time to research favorite foods online to be aware of calories, fat and sodium. Finding small ways to cut calories, as in ordering grilled chicken instead of crispy and using low-fat dressing will certainly help.

FMI see www.mcdonalds.com.

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