To help consumers make better choices about the food they eat, McDonald'sÂ will post calories for all items on its menu boards in the U.S., both inside stores and in drive-thru lanes.
The new menu boards will go up next week, the company said.
"At McDonald's, we recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order," said Jan Fields, President of McDonald's USA. "As a company that has provided nutrition information for more than 30 years, we are pleased to add to the ways we make nutrition information available to our customers and employees."
Improved nutritional choices
According to Fields, the move is part of the company's "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices," announced last year. The plan aims to help customers and employees make informed nutrition choices whether visiting McDonald's or eating elsewhere.
Caloric intake is increasingly recognized as a key element in controlling weight and preventing obesity. McDonald's cited research by theÂ International Food Information Council Foundation showing only 15 percent of Americans accurately estimate the number of calories they need to maintain their weight.
McDonald's has long been a target of health and nutrition advocates who say fast-food marketing has helped promote the obesity epidemic in America. The city of San Francisco went so far as to ban Happy Meals, claiming they lured children into bad eating habits with the promise of a toy.
Revamped Happy Meals
Partly to counter that, McDonald's recently revamped Happy Meal menus to include apple slices and fat-free milk. This past summer, McDonald's introduced a "Favorites Under 400" menu that highlights the calorie information for some of customers' favorite foods and beverages to help put calorie counts in better context.
The restaurant chain also announced plans to test foods that would increase the number of wholesome choices on its menu. The menu items being explored for 2013 include more recommended food groups.
Among the additions being tested for for inclusion are more season fruit and vegetables options, such as blueberries and cucumbers, during peak seasons. McDonald's says it will also offer additional produce side options and grilled chicken choices for Happy Meals.
McDonald's may be getting out in front of what it expects to be the wave of the future. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still reviewing an Obama administration proposal to require the posting of calorie data on many restaurant menus.