By September 2011, McDonald’s is planning to introduce a Happy Meal that is healthier for children.

The meal will come with apple slices — two bags if one wants to skip the fries, which are also scaled down to a smaller portion. The beverage choices will include fat free chocolate milk and 1 percent milk.

We wondered why a prominent chain like Mickey D’s would leave itself out of the National Restaurant Industry’s new program to promote healthier chain meals for children. Apparently, McD’s had its own announcement coming shortly.

Because the centerpiece of the new Happy Meal remains a hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken nuggets, it’s hard to get too excited. A burger is 250 calories with 9 grams of fat and 520 mg of sodium. A cheese burger is worse at 300 calories, 12 grams fat and 750 mg of sodium. The nuggets are marginally better than both with 190 calories, 112 grams fat and 360 mg of sodium.

Add to that how powerless parents often are when they pull into the Golden Arches. Nation’s Restaurant News says that only 11 percent of those ordering Happy Meals now choose the apple slices option.

Fries and obesity vs. tears: I guess the fries win.