The fast food giant recently included Step It! Activity Band in happy meal and hoped it would be a means of getting kids active but soon removed the device from restaurants.
McDonald’s planned to give out fitness trackers instead of toys in its Happy Meals but due to reports of skin irritation the plan didn’t work well.
“We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated from wearing the band,” Terri Hickey, a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement.Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and we are fully investigating this issue.”
The exact number of reports was not specified.
Casey Collyar of Arkansas, wrote on Facebook last week that her child was burned by the Happy Meal toy after playing with it for eight minutes. Her post was shared more than 100,000 times.
The fitness trackers, which come in six bright colors, were already being distributed and were set to be available for four weeks in the United States and Canada. The plastic wrist-worn pedometer measures steps and blinks quickly or slowly depending on the pace of the person wearing it.
“Physical activity is important to everyone of all ages. We very much support children’s well-being,” Michelle McIlmoyle, senior marketing manager for McDonald’s Canada, said in an earlier press release according to Digital Trends.
With Step-it, McDonald’s seemed to be jumping onto a recent trend of step counting. Many smartphones and smartwatches come with the feature. An entire industry has formed around the device as brands like FitBit or Jawbone become even more popular and high tech.
Mashable tried out the McDonald’s device and noted that it didn’t seem built to last or accurate. “Nevertheless, for the children who will use the Step-It, the apparent progress shown on its tiny screen will likely be enough to encourage the wearer to keep trying to rack up the steps,” the site wrote.
On Twitter, the National Eating Disorders Association criticized McDonald’s for associating fitness tracking with meals. “Kids shouldn’t have to ‘earn’ a meal!” the association tweeted. The chain has beencriticized in the past for giving out toys with its food.
Fitness trackers have been praised by certain healthcare experts as a way to motivate kids to exercise. “I love it that Happy Meals will include a Step-it because it promotes physical activity,” Lisa Gualtieri, an assistant professor of public health at Tufts University School of Medicine, told Boston Magazine. “It gives children a greater awareness of their step count. From a public health perspective, increasing awareness of and providing education about physical activity is beneficial.”
Others pointed out the irony of the fast food chain giving away a health minded object. Many rushed to try it out.