NEW YORK — They might start calling it the McDiet.
McDonald Corp.’s CEO Don Thompson revealed at an analyst conference this week that he shed about 20 pounds in the past year by getting his “butt up” and “working out again.” But he said he hasn’t changed his habit of eating at McDonald’s “every, single day.”
Thompson, who has been on the job for less than a year, was responding to a question about how the world’s biggest hamburger chain is adapting amid growing concerns about obesity.
Thompson said that he lost the weight by getting active again. He noted that Europeans walk a lot and that it’s rare to see Europeans that are “very, very heavy.”
“And so I think that balance is really important to people,” he said.
Thompson did not provide any other details about his weight or diet. A representative for McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for more details.
The remarks come as fast-food chains and packaged food companies face criticism about making products that fuel obesity rates. Coca-Cola Co., for example, recently started a campaign seeking to highlight its healthier, low-calorie drinks as well as the importance of physical activity in a balanced lifestyle.
For its part, McDonald’s in recent years has boosted its marketing to highlight healthier menu options, including salads, chicken wraps and egg white breakfast sandwiches.
At the Sanford Bernstein conference on Wednesday, Thompson noted that customers have many options at McDonald’s, which has more than 34,000 locations worldwide. For example, he said someone might get a Big Mac one day and a grilled chicken salad with balsamic vinaigrette another day.
Earlier in the talk, however, Thompson also said that salads make up just 2 percent to 3 percent of sales. He said there were other ways the company, which is based in Oak Brook, Ill., could incorporate fruits and vegetables into its menu, pointing to the chicken wraps it recently introduced.
But going forward, he said: “I don’t see salads being a major growth driver.”