McDonald’s ridiculed for putting fitness trackers in Happy Meals … yes, really

McDonald’s ridiculed for putting fitness trackers in Happy Meals … yes, really

McDonald's is being mocked for offering a pedometer alongside unhealthy food choices.

Word came down recently that McDonald’s would be recalling fitness trackers that it was putting in Happy Meals, prompting the universal response of — you were putting fitness trackers in Happy Meals?

It was part of McDonald’s effort to push kids to be more active — something they’d need to do to work off the McDonald’s they were eating. McDonald’s execs apparently thought putting fitness trackers in Happy Meals that included pedometers would be a positive outreach effort to critics who slam the company for advertising junk food to kids, but it all blew up in McDonald’s face when reports surfaced that the devices could irritate children’s skin, forcing a recall.

The move brought public awareness to the fact that these fitness trackers were being put in Happy Meals, and soon earned McDonald’s lots of derision and mockery from people who thought it was hilarious that a company that creates incredibly unhealthy food is trying to get kids to exercise more.

Of course, you could defend McDonald’s by pointing out that at least it’s trying to do something without completely blowing up its business model, and it has made an effort to alter its menu with more salads and fresh fruits. Kids have the option of getting apple slice, yogurt and fat-free chocolate milk.

But it appears the pedometer was perhaps a bit comical in that McDonald’s is still known for its fatty french fries and calorie-laden burgers, items that don’t pair well with a fitness tracker.

CNET reviewed the cheap plastic fitness tracker, and said that it was terrible. Beyond causing skin irritations, the pedometer just didn’t work very well, CNET wrote, which called it bulky and ugly. It also didn’t appear to work very well.

“I collected 30 steps just putting the band on my wrist,” the author wrote. “I got 54 from typing. Twisting my wrist picked up two or three. And yet, a walk around our NY office collected 40 steps, compared to about 500 on my Fitbit Blaze and Apple Watch.”

McDonald’s sent the following statement to news agencies:

We are voluntarily removing the Step It! Activity Band Happy Meal toys in our restaurants in our United States and Canadian markets. It will no longer be offered as part of our Happy Meals. We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band.

Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue. Our restaurants are now offering our youngest guests an alternative Happy Meal toy.

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