McDonald's Promises More Fruits and Veggies

McDonald"s announced it will offer more fruits and vegetables on its menu. (Image credit: McDonald's)

Days after Burger King unveiled its new low-fat "Satisfries," McDonald's has promised to expand its healthy offerings, too, with fresh new fare such as kiwis on sticks.

The fast-food giant announced the pledge Thursday at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City.

"This commitment reflects McDonald's progress regarding nutrition and well-being," McDonald's President and CEO Don Thompson said in a statement. "We will continue to use our size and scale around the world to help educate, empower and encourage our customers to make informed choices so they can live a balanced and healthy lifestyle."

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Part of the pledge is to offer more fruit and veggie options, such as salad, kiwis on sticks and sliced melon, instead of french fries, with value meals. The company has also vowed to promote only milk, water and juice - not soda - as the beverage in kids' Happy Meals.

"I think it's a very commendable and exciting move," said Dr. David Katz, co-founder of the Yale Prevention Research Center and author of "Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well."

"There's no question that a place that ubiquitous can make a big difference," said Katz.

Katz said the company's shift toward a healthier menu reflects the demands of a healthier generation.

"This is a beautiful example of how when we change our demands, they we will change the supply," he said, noting that some big food companies have been called hypocrites for offering healthy options as a business ploy. "But what do we expect them to do? If they ignore the problem, they're the bad guys. And if they try to get involved, we call them hypocrites. We have to create a space where they have an opportunity to change their offerings, stop being part of the problem's cause and start being part of the solution."

As for kiwis on sticks, Katz said he thinks it's a great idea.

"I love kiwis, but frankly they're messing things to eat," he said. "If you put mine on a stick, I'd love it."

McDonald's partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation to develop the plan.

"If we want to curb the catastrophic economic and health implications of obesity across the world we need more companies to follow McDonald's lead and to step up to the plate and make meaningful changes," Bill Clinton said in a statement. "I applaud them for doing it."

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McDonald's has also promised to use its packaging to generate excitement for fruits and veggies among kids, and ensure that all advertising directed at kids includes fun messages about nutrition and well-being.

"This is an essential step in the fight against obesity," Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, said in a statement. "Effective promotion of healthier choices can have a substantial impact on the food and beverage choices that get made."