The West Lafayette McDonald's is now home to a pilot program for the company's new health promotion.

In an effort to encourage healthier eating, McDonald's is offering a new adult version of the Happy Meal, called a Go Active meal. It includes a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer, which measures the number of steps a person takes, to promote walking. McDonald's is test-marketing the program in 150 Indiana McDonald's restaurants, including the store at the corner of Northwestern and Stadium avenues.

Diana Nevarez, senior in the School of Health Science, said she was trying the Go Active meal because she wanted the pedometer. She thinks this is a good business move for McDonald's.

"I saw the commercial and wanted to get the pedometer," said Nevarez. "(The program) reaches a diverse demographic. Not everyone likes burgers."

Especially with recent lawsuits blaming McDonald's for health problems, she said, it's a good promotion to help people become more aware of their health.

Purdue nutrition coordinator Sue Abney said the new meal is part of the move to make fast food restaurants more accountable for what they're serving.

"I think competition is demanding they do something to help promote better health and reduce the overweight population," Abney said.

But consumers would probably be surprised to find out the Go Active meal — salad and all — isn't necessarily healthier than other fare at McDonald's. The Big Mac, McDonald's signature sandwich, boasts 590 calories and 34 grams of fat while the Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken and ranch dressing has 660 calories and 51 grams of fat. McDonald's also offers only one light salad dressing and no fat free dressings, something Abney thinks is wrong.

"I think the consumer should demand something with less fat," said Abney. "I'm not opposed to fast food, but I think we have to limit it pretty severely."

Abney does like the idea of the pedometer.

"I think anything we can do or that a company can do to encourage more movement to build in more activity is excellent," she said.

Shannon Holly, sophomore in the School of Liberal Arts, said she thinks the concept of the Go Active meal is ironic.

"When I think McDonald's, I think fast food, unhealthy, grease," she said. "I don't think about working out."

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