Saint Joseph's University consumer behavior expert and food marketing professor Ernest Baskin, Ph.D., is available to discuss the recent changes McDonald's is making to its Happy Meals for children -- primarily, removing cheeseburgers from the menu and making the French fries smaller -- in order to make its offerings healthier.

Baskin notes that one reason for the move might be prompted by McDonald's responding to the current environment which is driving parents to try to make healthier choices for their children -- who, nonetheless, crave McDonald's food. Making the change for them, he argues, takes the battle out of the hands of the parents.

“The other side is that food costs are getting higher for McDonald's," Baskin says. "Notably, the two big changes -- decreasing the size of the fries as well as nudging consumers to the hamburger as the default option -- are both changes that decrease food costs.

"At my local McDonald's, both the hamburger and cheeseburger versions of the Happy Meal cost the same, and getting kids to switch the to the hamburger meal will lower food costs," he notes. "Decreasing the size of the fries will do the same. Notably, there are no current plans for a reformulation of the burger in the US market."

Baskin can be reached at [email protected], 610-660-1643, or 610-660-3240.