Allison Aubrey, reporting for NPR:
Fast-food giant McDonald’s has made a commitment to stop marketing sodas as a beverage option in kids’ Happy Meals.
Instead, the chain has committed to market and promote only milk, water and juice with the children’s meals.
This is a welcome move, however, the company (and more importantly parents) should be careful about how milk and juice are marketed to children in terms of health.
Here is a brief comparison of the respective nutritional values:
- Coca-Cola (child size): 100 calories, 28g carbs, 28g sugars
- Milk (1%): 100 calories, 12g carbs, 12g sugars
- Chocolate Milk (fat-free): 130 calories, 23g carbs, 22g sugars
- Apple Juice (box): 100 calories, 23g carbs, 22g sugars
Based on a single serving, cola isn’t substantially worse in terms of calories, carbs, and sugars when compared to most of the other options. Now, I presume one major benefit is that the cola alternatives are not refillable. That’s exactly why portion control and responsibility should be the larger message directed to children. For instance, if a child were to drink a large amount of juice because they believe it is inherently “healthy”, they can still gain weight. Conversely, if a child enjoys a rare single soda in the context of a well-rounded diet, they will be okay. I worry that rebranding juice and milk as “healthy” in the absence of portion control education will do little to curb our current childhood obesity issues. That said, I believe this is a great start from McDonald’s.