CHICAGO — McDonald’s Corp. has enlisted the aid of Oprah Winfrey’s personal trainer to promote an adult version of the Happy Meal, the fast-food giant’s latest effort to offer healthier products.
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Instead of Happy Meal standards like a burger and a toy, the new Go Active meal will include a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer meant to encourage walking.
Fitness guru Bob Greene has agreed to help promote the Go Active Meal, which is being test-marketed at 150 McDonald’s restaurants in Indiana.
McDonald’s and other fast-food chains have tried to offer healthier fare that will still temp tastebuds as the fat and calorie content of their core products has come under scrutiny. Burger King, the No. 2 hamburger chain, planned to launch a new line of low-fat, baguette-style chicken sandwiches on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, a federal judge in New York dismissed an obesity lawsuit against McDonald’s that alleged it had been hiding the health risks of eating its popular Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. It was the second time this year that U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet threw out a class-action lawsuit that blamed McDonald’s for making people fat.
Greene, who can’t remember the last time he visited a McDonald’s restaurant, said consumers had to take “personal responsibility” for the choices they make when it comes to consuming food.
He will also consult on new menu items for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company, which also announced a new taco version of its premium salads on Tuesday.
McDonald’s has a “long, long way to go” to solidify a reputation for promoting healthy foods, said Bob Goldin, an analyst at Chicago-based food consultancy Technomic.
But Goldin was willing to give the company credit for trying.
“McDonald’s sees some major trends, and the company is trying to be responsive,” Goldin said. “Whether these initiatives will actually move the needle (to boost sales), I don’t know.”
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