NEW YORK -- Shifting the spotlight from french fries to fruit, McDonald's Corp. launched a new worldwide initiative yesterday to promote healthy living, the latest effort by the world's largest restaurant chain to combat criticism of its food and business.
The ''It's what I eat and what I do . . . I'm lovin' it" campaign includes television ads, new packaging, an updated website, and a fresh series of videos teaching children to eat well.
''We will use our size and strength to set an example," said chief executive Jim Skinner.
The TV spots feature kid-friendly images such as snowboarding, jump-roping fruits and veggies, plus tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, and speed skater Bonnie Blair.
McDonald's has pushed to convey a healthier image amid mounting criticism that fast food is not nutritious and has contributed to America's weight problem.
The company introduced entree-sized salads in 2003 and 2004. McDonald's also ran a promotion for adult Happy Meals featuring salad, bottled water, and a pedometer, added a fresh fruit option to its kids' Happy Meals, and began heavily promoting milk.
This year, it plans new salads and will keep working to remove trans-fatty acids from foods.
''I think it's just window dressing designed to promote a more cuddly feeling toward the company than to really change their core business practices," said Michael Jacobson, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.