McDonald's revealed that it will soon remove cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu in an attempt to cut down on the amount of unhealthy food consumed by children, and some say it's a result of former first lady Michelle Obama's initiative to make children healthier.
According to WPVI, McDonald's announced the plan to remove the items from the Happy Meal menu, which the company hopes cut down on the amount of calories, sodium, saturated fat, and sugar consumed by children at its restaurants.
Customers will still be able to ask for cheeseburgers and chocolate milk with the kid's meal, but the company said that not having the items listed on the menu will reduce how often they are ordered.
Four years ago, in 2014, McDonald's removed soda from the Happy Meal menu and Happy Meal orders with soda fell 14 percent.
Parents and advocates have long criticized the fast food company for its contribution to childhood obesity. McDonald's has made a number of changes to their menu over the years to combat the issue, such as cutting down the size of its french fries portions and adding fruit to the menu. Recently, the company changed its apple juice to one with less sugar.
According to CNN, the company has been experimenting with new Happy Meal items around the world.
In Italy, the company recently released a grilled chicken sandwich, while locations in both France and Australia began exploring other vegetable and protein options.
Ernest Baskin, a professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph's University, said that the company is likely making the changes in order to both improve its image among parents and to reduce food costs.
"Kids do crave McDonald's, but parents might not always feel good about bringing them there," Baskin said. "By positioning their meals as healthier, McDonald's is likely attempting to make the decision easier for the parents."
McDonald's said that it is aiming for all of the Happy Meal options to have 600 or fewer calories and less than 650 milligrams of sodium. The company is also aiming to have less than 10 percent of each meal's calories come from saturated fat and added sugar.
The cheeseburger and chocolate milk on the Happy Meal menu did not meet those standards. The company reportedly hopes to have the chocolate milk back on the menu in the future, however, if it is able to cut sugar from the recipe. It is not clear when that will be.
In 2010, Michelle Obama launched the White House initiative "Let's Move!" in an effort to solve childhood obesity. The former first lady's program got kids more focused on physical exercise and promoted healthy eating in schools. The program sparked a nationwide conversation about what's healthy for kids, and some say that the recent move by McDonald's is a direct result of Michelle Obama's efforts.
McDonald's will reportedly be making other changes to the Happy Meal menu, as well. The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small. Bottled water will also be added as an option on the menu, though it will cost extra.