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updated: 9/17/2012 12:14 PM

McDonald's to post calories, test healthier food

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By Leslie Patton and Anna Edney

McDonald's Corp., the world's biggest restaurant chain, will begin posting calorie information on menu boards at its U.S. stores next week.

The fast-food restaurant also will test healthier food, such as egg-white breakfast sandwiches, 350-calorie sweet chili chicken wraps and more produce side items, to add to its menu in 2013, Oak Brook-based McDonald's said recently in a statement. Calorie counts will be listed on menus inside restaurants and at drive-through windows, it said.

The burger seller is making efforts to improve nutrition and disclose more about its food after being criticized for selling unhealthy items amid a national obesity epidemic. More than one-third of adults and about 17 percent of children are considered obese in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

A Big Mac sandwich at McDonald's has 550 calories, while a 12-ounce vanilla milkshake has 530 calories.

A U.S. health-law mandate requiring chain restaurants with more than 20 locations to post calorie contents of fare may take effect later this year. The proposed regulation, issued April 6, 2011, is a part of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation.

McDonald's has recently touted a "Favorites Under 400 Calories" menu, which includes the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, Egg McMuffin and medium fries, to attract U.S. consumers. The chain has struggled to draw Americans as competitors step up promotions and add menu items.

Last year, the fast-food chain began putting apple slices and smaller packets of fries in all of its Happy Meals in U.S. stores. The change reduced calories in kids' meals by 20 percent, the company said in a statement at the time.

Darden Restaurant Inc., owner of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster dining chains, also has made efforts to provide healthier meals. The Orlando, Fla.-based company is working with first lady Michelle Obama's Partnership for a Healthier America to cut the calories and sodium in its food by 10 percent during the next five years, it said in September 2011.

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