Rash of complaints ends McDonald's short-lived fitness tracker Happy Meal promotion

By Heather Mack

McDonald’s was trying to get a few steps ahead of the criticism that Happy Meals run completely counter to health and fitness by offering fitness trackers in their kid-focused food. Instead, they got a rash of complaints that led the fast food giant to immediately stop the campaign and issue an apology.

Turns out the brightly-colored Step It! Activity Band – a wristband that could track just how much little McDonald’s customers were moving and blinked according to speed – were causing skin irritations. The tip came from mom Casey Collyar, who posted on Facebook a picture of her child’s burn from StepIt. Her post was shared more than 100,000 times.

The promotion was supposed to last four weeks at every location in the US and Canada, but lasted just a few days after the complaints started rolling in.

“We are voluntarily removing the Step It! Activity Band Happy Meal toys in our restaurants in our United States and Canadian markets. It will no longer be offered as part of our Happy Meals. 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 of McDonald’s Global Communications said in a statement.

Hickey did not respond to request for more information, such as the manufacturer of the product, nor how many complaints McDonald’s has received. Mashable reported the back of the band only indicated it was made in China. 

McDonald’s isn’t the first to have to pull a fitness tracker off the market. Intel was recently moved to halt sales of Basis Peak due to overheating concerns, and Fitbit and Jawbone also had to recall products for reported skin irritations.

It’s unknown how intense a kid would have to walk to cause the irritation from the device overheating, but as Gizmodo pointed out, the tracker can, “presumably count really, really high – because it takes four hours of exercise to burn off the 840 calories in a single Happy Meal. If you consider that the average person takes about 2,000 steps per mile, and they walk about three miles per hour, that means a child would have tot take about 24,000 steps before their grimy cheeseburger meal calories were burned off.”