McDonald’s to stop distributing fitness trackers in Happy Meals

NEW YORK (AP) — An attempt by McDonald’s to get kids moving isn’t working out so great: The chain said it will no longer distribute activity trackers in its Happy Meals after reports that they might cause skin irritations.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said Wednesday it received limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated with the bands, which look like step counters. Terri Hickey, a McDonald’s representative, said in an email that McDonald’s is “fully investigating this issue” and that restaurants are “offering our youngest guests an alternative Happy Meal toy.”

Hickey declined to provide further details.

The fitness bands, which were available in the U.S. and Canada, were seen as an odd promotion in some circles because of McDonald’s reputation for serving fattening junk food. The chain has been trying to shed that image over the years, particularly with parents, in part by tweaking its Happy Meals to include fruit.

At one New York City location, the activity tracker bands, which look like watches, were available earlier Wednesday. The bag says the activity bands were made in China.

Original story below

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — McDonald’s locations across North America have begun serving a bit of physical encouragement with every Happy Meal.

The House of Ronald is bringing out the plastic “Step-it” wristbands as a part of a widespread promotion campaign to get kids active.

We should caution that these aren’t high-tech fitness trackers, like a Fitbit or Apple Watch. The wristband is made of transparent plastic and features a single button that works to turn on and off the device and also reset the step count, Digital Times reports. As far as how it tracks your steps, Mashable reports it uses simple movement to guess your approximate steps taken.

The bad? You won’t get an accurate step-count

The good? It will hopefully encourage kids to get moving!

“Physical activity is important to everyone of all ages. We very much support children’s well-being,” said Michelle McIlmoyle, McDonald’s Canada senior marketing manager, in a press release. “Step-it is in line with McDonald’s general philosophy for Happy Meal toys, which is to make toys that encourage either physical or imagination-based play.”

There’s one other catch. Your classic Happy Meal containing a cheeseburger, kid’s fries, apple slices and a Minute Maid apple juice box contains about 510 calories. The average adult male would have to walk 9,500 steps to burn off that meal, Runners World reports. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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