McDonald's CEO: We're challenged right now but…

As McDonald's fights to turn around its business, one metric is showing signs of improvement.

On Thursday, the chain unveiled its progress on its commitment to promote balanced choices in its food and beverage options.

Notably, Happy Meals eaters are shifting toward milk and juice choices and away from soft drinks.

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Since McDonald's removed soft drinks from Happy Meal menu boards, the percent of customers choosing them fell to 48 percent from 56 percent and the portion of Happy Meal purchases including milk or juice rose to 46 percent from 37 percent.

"As a parent I know how difficult it can be to encourage your kids to eat well," said McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook on NBC's Today show. "Generally the reaction we get from parents is just one of gratitude," said McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook.

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McDonald's has been struggling to turn itself into a "progressive burger company" amid stiff competition in the restaurant space. Year to date, comparable restaurant sales in the U.S. are down 2.4 percent. As part of its turnaround effort, the company is trying to speed up the drive-thru and recommitting to tastier, hotter food. It is also testing out all-day breakfast in select markets.

"The business is challenged at the moment, but at our heart we are a burger company," Easterbrook said.