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McDonald’s Happy Meal Fitness Band Was Doomed From the Start

In an apparent attempt to capitalize simultaneously on the Rio Olympics and children’s love of burgers and fries, McDonald’s recently released a line of fitness trackers in their Happy Meals.

In an apparent attempt to capitalize simultaneously on the Rio Olympics and children's love of burgers and fries, McDonald's recently released a line of fitness trackers in their Happy Meals.

The proposed goal of the Step-It Activity Band, essentially a glorified pedometer (obviously, that's not the word you'd want to use to brand a step tracker for children), is to get kids more active both physically and mentally—two things that are not easy to do after eating a meal at McDonald's.


READ MORE: The Olympics Food Options Are So Bad That Athletes Are Eating McDonald's

"Physical activity is important to everyone of all ages. We very much support children's well-being," Michelle McIlmoyle, McDonald's Canada senior marketing manager, said 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." (Like, for instance, imagining that McDonald's is healthy.)

Miniature medalist in the making. ? #Rio2016

— McDonald's (@McDonalds) August 14, 2016

Some of the bands are equipped with LEDs that blink in sync with the walking or running pattern of users, while others count steps. The bands also remind users how awesome the Ronald McDonald foundation is and to drink milk on a regular basis.

But the project seemed doomed from the start. Almost immediately after McDonald's announced the release of their Activity Bands, there was an outpouring of criticism on many different fronts.

Aside from the obvious contradiction of luring kids to fast food with toys, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) called out McDonald's on Twitter for making fast food a reward for young children and associating that behavior with exercise.

Kids shouldn't have to "earn" a meal! @McDonalds is including fitness trackers in Happy Meals - WHAT?! #bodyimage — NEDA (@NEDAstaff) August 17, 2016


Meanwhile, Mashable reviewed the trackers, and found them to be flimsy and inaccurate but conceded that "simply wearing it is likely to encourage more activity." Other tech reviews were not so generous.

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Functionality aside, McDonald's has an even bigger problem to deal with now, after reports began to emerge of the pedometer's wristband causing skin irritation. The fast food giant did not hesitate to finally discontinue the doomed fitness band.

"We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band," Terri Hickey, a McDonald's spokeswoman, told the Guardian.

While McDonald's has successfully used a literal clown and free toys for decades to hawk burgers and ice cream to children, this recent foray into health and tech definitely missed the mark.

And kids are already burning plenty of calories by playing Pokémon Go, anyway, so there's no real need to throw burgers in the mix.