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Fitness trackers in McDonald’s Happy Meals lead to rashes and backlash

The fast food giant was hoping Step It! Activity Band would be a means of getting kids active but Wednesday voluntarily removed the device from restaurants

Reports of skin irritation have derailed plans by McDonalds to give out fitness trackers instead of toys in its Happy Meals.

The fast food giant was hoping the Step It! Activity Band would be a means of getting kids active, Digital Trends reported. On Wednesday, it voluntarily removed the device from its restaurants and was investigating the issue.

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 McDonalds spokesperson said in a statement.

The colorful plastic device strapped on like a watch and tracked steps. It blinked as the wearer walked and blinked more rapidly the faster they moved.

Physical activity is important to everyone of all ages. We very much support childrens well-being, Michelle McIlmoyle, senior marketing manager for McDonalds Canada, said in an earlier press release according to Digital Trends.

The news of the fitness-minded move was seemingly tied to the Rio Olympics, which the chain sponsors. McDonalds has made numerous Rio-themed tweets since the Games began many of them showing kids playing sports.

McDonald’s (@McDonalds) August 14, 2016

Miniature medalist in the making. #Rio2016

In the Olympic village, athletes and coaches get free McDonalds and have been taking full advantage. The line is often out the door. Athletes have been ordering so much that theres now a limit on how much one person can order, according to the Washington Post.

With Step-it, McDonalds 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 McDonalds device and noted that it didnt 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 McDonalds for associating fitness tracking with meals. Kids shouldnt have to earn a meal! the association tweeted. The chain has been criticized 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.

Kendra Alvey (@Kendragarden) August 17, 2016

McDonalds is giving out fitness trackers in happy meals which is sorta like lighting you on fire then handing you water but like with fries.

Faiza (@CityFaizaAmin) August 15, 2016

My motion activated ‘Step It’ says I’m being active while grabbing some @McDonalds fries @CityNews

Already, one parent posted a video of his five-year-old daughter running around gleefully with the step counter. McDonalds, you did right, he said. She cant stop. Its just constant. Shes gonna sleep great.

Los Medina (@FrontOfficeLos) August 13, 2016

So @McDonalds has provided a kids version of a step counter with the current happy meal. #greatparentsuccess

The chain put out similar activity toys during the 2012 Olympics in London.

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