American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on new commitments from McDonald’s and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease and stroke, promotes strategies based on the best science to improve nutrition and increase physical activity for people of all ages.
“With more than 40 percent of young children eating fast food on a given day, the American Heart Association encourages all restaurants to ensure families have healthier options that positively impact the health of children. Restaurant offerings and advertising practices play a significant role in driving consumer demand for healthy menu items. We believe the entire restaurant industry can help achieve the American Heart Association’s goals to improve heart health by making healthy menus the norm for kids’ meals. This is particularly impactful when families are eating out on a budget.
Today, we applaud McDonald’s leadership in offering healthier kids’ meals that will considerably increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water and low-fat dairy for millions of families globally. This is an important step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing how today’s announcement will lead to kids eating fewer calories and less sugar, saturated fat and sodium. In addition to offering healthier meal combinations, McDonald’s commitment to promoting water and advertising healthier side items in kids’ meals will further the momentum in consumer demand for healthier foods and beverages. We are encouraged to see adherence to global voluntary marketing practices to children that we know will improve customer selections. We urge restaurants around the world to follow suit and promote better-for-you food and beverage choices.
The American Heart Association remains committed to ensuring that all families have access to healthier choices for their children, and will continue to aggressively advocate for change that promotes healthy foods and beverages. In particular, sugary drinks such as lemonade, soda and fruit drinks, often included with kids’ meals, are too high in sugar. The American Heart Association recommends children over the age of 2 consume no more than one small sugary drink per week, yet many children are consuming ten times that amount. We know that sugary drinks are associated with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Several major restaurant chains have already removed sugary drinks from their kids’ meal menus and we encourage others to do the same.”
The American Heart Association, along with the Clinton Foundation, is a co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.