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McDonald's Happy Meal goes on a Diet

The much maligned – by parents, that is – McDonald's Happy Meal is trimming some fat. The company announced Tuesday it will reduce by half the amount of French fries that come with the children's meal. Additionally, fruit will be added, reducing the overall caloric value by 20 percent.

Introduced in the 1970s, the child-centric meal has become a recent target of criticism for linking fast food and toys. With the childhood obesity rate at approximately 17 percent – and with First Lady Michelle Obama rallying for change – the Happy Meal has come under scrutiny.

The slimmer and trimmer Happy Meals will be available in September and will all include apple slices, without the caramel dipping sauce that is currently available. McDonald's says parents will soon have the option of requesting more fruit or even vegetables instead of fries. Fat-free chocolate or low-fat milk will also be options.

The present chicken nugget version of the Happy Meal contains 520 calories and 26 grams of fat. The slimmed down version will weigh in at 410 calories, with 19 grams of fat. Bowing to pressure from advocacy and consumer groups, Jack-in-the-Box has done away with offering toys with each meal. McDonald's, however, is holding fast to the free trinkets.

The price for fewer calories and less fat is expected to remain the same.

How often you do let your kids indulge in Happy Meals? Will you do so more often after September?

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