HealthZette

Big Mac’s New Sizes: Too Big, Too Little, or Just Right?

Fresh options from McDonald's — but know what you're being sold

McDonald’s has stepped up to the proverbial (dinner) plate with the Goldilocks of hamburgers — the Mac Grand and Mac Junior. Not sure if the regular Big Mac is enough to curb your appetite? You can now go bigger with the Mac Grand. For those wanting to trim some calories but still indulge, there’s the Mac Junior.

The only difference in these new sandwiches is the size — they’re both dressed in the traditional all beef patty(s), special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun.

The Grand Mac, however, will have a bigger bun with two 2.7-ounce patties and all the fixings, making it a one-third-pound burger. The Mac Jr. is a Big Mac with just one burger patty and the middle bun removed.

McDonald’s is testing the Grand Mac and the Mac Jr. in the Central Ohio and Dallas/Fort Worth markets through June 6.

The options are meant to do two things: give consumers more choices and allow the company to be more flexible in its efforts to bring diners into its restaurants.

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Dietitians, however, say consumers still need to be cautious — just because one option is smaller doesn’t necessarily make it healthier.

Katie Cavuto, a registered dietician in Philadelphia who runs the blog Nourish Breathe Thrive, said the notion of creating a smaller Big Mac is marketing the pretense of health.

“This is taking a historically less healthy option at a fast food restaurant and misleading the consumer into thinking it’s a healthy option,” Cavuto told LifeZette.

She believes indulging now and then is OK but it shouldn’t become a habit — even if the burger is “smaller.”

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“If a Big Mac is your thing, then sure, a smaller version is going to be a better option,”  she said, adding that people who eat this should make sure to get enough nutrient-dense foods elsewhere in their diets.

Scott Kahan, an M.D. and the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C., feels the larger of the three options is troubling.

“There is strong and consistent research from the fields of obesity, public health, and behavioral economics showing that default settings make a large impact in our health behaviors and health outcomes — in particular default portion sizes. When we are served larger portions, we eat more. When we’re served smaller portions, we eat less — no matter how hungry we are. In many ways, the defaults make the decisions for us,” he said. “This is an important contributor to the obesity epidemic.”

Diners, of course, have the final say over what they eat. And knowing that, McDonald’s is encouraging its local markets throughout the country to make new menu suggestions.

The company is testing Johnsonville Brats in more than 100 Milwaukee area restaurants through May 22, Marketwatch.com reports.

Southern California restaurants have also started catering to the health-conscious breakfast crowd with two breakfast bowls — egg white with turkey sausage and scrambled egg and chorizo.