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After Olympics Scrutiny, McDonald's Promotes 'Low-Calorie' 'Healthy' Image

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Surprise, McDonald's is secretly low-calorie. Or that's what they want you to think, at least: the fast food restaurant has announced a new "Favorites Under 400 Calories" program that advertises existing menu items that are under 400 calories. The menu includes Sausage McMuffins, medium fries, Oreo McFlurries and more. (Here's the full menu.) The dishes are obviously only 400 calories on their own; when eaten together the numbers go up rather quickly. So that at least sounds healthy, kind of?

The Under 400 program comes amid criticism of the London 2012 Olympic Committee for continuing to let McDonald's sponsor the games despite their reputation for unhealthy food. The chain also just reported disappointing quarterly profits. Nothing like a "healthy" promotion to get some quick positive press?

Some of the Favorites Under 400 Calories menu items come with a game piece for McDonald's Win When USA Wins Gold promotion, which allows customers to compete online "alongside the Team USA Olympians for a chance to win prizes whenever the USA wins a gold medal in a specified event." To review: eat more healthy-ish McDonald's, "compete" with Olympians, and win prizes that include more McDonald's. It's almost like you're an actual world class athlete. Here's the press release:

McDonald's New U.S. Menu Platform Puts Calories Front And Center

OAK BROOK, lll., July 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This week McDonald's USA is introducing "Favorites Under 400 Calories" – a new menu platform featuring existing popular food and beverage choices at counters and drive-thrus nationwide. Select items from the new menu are also spotlighted in McDonald's "Win When USA Wins Gold" promotion which brings customers the fun of the London 2012 Olympic Games through a unique online experience.

"Favorites Under 400 Calories is one more way we're making nutrition information accessible. Like our mobile app, this platform aims to empower our customers and employees to make choices that are right for their nutrition needs," said Neil Golden, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald's USA. "We've found that customers are surprised to learn about the calorie content of some of their favorite menu options at McDonald's. In fact, customers may be surprised to know that about 80 percent of national menu choices are under 400 calories for the standard recipe.1"

Recent research suggests only about one in seven Americans (15 percent) accurately estimates the number of calories they need to maintain their weight.2 In addition to listing calories, various promotional materials highlight the average adult needs about 2,000 calories a day, although individual calorie needs vary.

"McDonald's is bringing greater awareness to calories starting with some of customers' favorite menu items for under 400 calories," said Cindy Goody, PhD, MBA, RD, McDonald's USA senior director of nutrition. "With Favorites Under 400 Calories, we hope to help customers understand how their choices fit within their daily recommended calorie needs, particularly with portion sizing and eating in moderation."

Favorites Under 400 Calories also engages customers in the excitement of the Olympic Games through the "Win When USA Wins Gold" promotion, beginning July 24. Customers have two ways to win. Select items from the new menu contain a game piece and customers can peel and win prizes instantly including free McDonald's Favorites Under 400 Calories menu items. Additionally, all game pieces have a code that customers can enter at From this site, customers compete alongside the Team USA Olympians for a chance to win prizes whenever the USA wins a gold medal in a specified event. Prizes include $25,000 in gold, trips to London and Panasonic VIERA® HDTVs.

The new menu platform is one of many ways in which McDonald's continues to offer nutrition information to help customers make informed choices. The company started providing nutrition information more than 35 years ago and that commitment has continued to grow.

Customers can access McDonald's nutrition information for food and beverage choices on, McDonald's mobile app, toll-free customer experience and insights line, in-restaurant brochures, reverse side of tray liners and select menu packaging. They can also use the online tool My Meal Builder to mix and match food and beverage choices and view nutrition and ingredient information for customized menu choices.

McDonald's USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States offering a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to more than 26 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at any of the 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter (@McDonalds) and Facebook ( for updates on our business, promotions and menu items

McDonald's commitment to the Olympic Movement began in 1968, when the company airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes in Grenoble, France, after they reported being homesick for McDonald's food. McDonald's has served its menu of choice and variety to millions of athletes, their coaches, families and fans. London 2012 marks the ninth consecutive Games that McDonald's will feed the athletes as the Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games.

· McDonald's New U.S. Menu Platform Puts Calories Front And Center [Press Release]
· All McDonald's Coverage on Eater [-E-]