McDonald's signs Oprah's personal trainer in health push

NEW YORK - Yo-yo dieter Oprah Winfrey's personal assistant and co-author of her '10 Steps to a Better Body' book has been signed by McDonald's as the latest weapon in its war on unhealthy living.

Bob Greene has been signed to promote an adult version of the Happy Meal, according to a report in today's New York Times. He will push the Go Active meal, which costs $4.99 (£3.12) and includes a salad and a bottle of water or a medium drink of fizzy pop.

Like all Happy Meals, the Go Active Meal will come with its own novelty -- a clip-on pedometer to help people measure how far they walk every day. Also included will be a book written by Greene with exercise tips.

McDonald's has just unveiled a global marketing campaign with the strapline "I'm lovin' it" and featuring Justin Timberlake, due to break in the UK tomorrow. The company is also looking at launching a new range of fast-food "health" snacks such as wraps and baguettes, to be sold in supermarkets.

The fast-food giant has already responded to growing concerns about the obesity epidemic sweeping the world by introducing salads, bottled water and fresh fruit. The New York Times reports that McDonald's is set to unveil a taco version of its salad and that white-meat-only Chicken McNuggets and apple dippers are to be introduced.

Oprah Winfrey, the US talkshow host, has faced a lifetime of public dieting as her size swings from obese back to a sporty svelte shape. Greene has helped Winfrey to lose weight and the pair have published a book called 'Making the Connection: 10 Steps to a Better Body -- and a Better Life'.

Sadly, with no time to read the book at the time of writing, it is unclear if one of the "10 steps to a better body" includes a McDonald's meal.

Some are sceptical about the role that McDonald's can play in helping people get healthy, but the chain has steadfastly maintained that it can be eaten as part of a balanced diet. Earlier this month, a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against McDonald's by two obese teenage girls, who had blamed the chain's marketing for their weight problems.

Jim Cantalupo, chairman and chief executive of the company, unveiled a plan at the beginning of the year to turn falling sales around. The plan includes a slow-down in store openings, improving its staple menu of burgers and fries, and focusing more on customer service.

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