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McDonald's hands out activity trackers with Happy Meals

Engadget Engadget 16/08/2016 Matt Brian
© Provided by Engadget

For more than three decades, McDonald's has handed out toys with Happy Meals. It's been long argued that the gifts incentivize parents and children to eat more fast food, leading to health issues like obesity and diabetes. While we've seen more educational and surprising tech inclusions, like VR goggles, toys that promote fitness and physical activity have been very few and far between (although the company did once include a pedometer with special Go Active! adult Happy Meals back in 2004).

With the Olympics now dominating headlines, the fast-food giant is encouraging kids to get moving with a new "STEP-it" fitness tracker. Every Happy Meal sold in the US and Canada will include one of six wrist-worn pedometers that also blink slowly or quickly depending on a child's activity. "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," McDonald's Canada Senior Marketing Manager, Michelle McIImoyle, explains to CityNews.

McDonald's says that the toy will be available for four weeks, during which it will advertise the tracker on TV and include it in pre-roll ads on YouTube (presumably on kid-focused videos). It's one of the main 2016 Olympic sponsors and is the official restaurant of the Games, so it makes sense to include the trackers and perhaps incentivize younger viewers to be active while US and Canadian athletes compete in Rio.

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