Looks like Ronald McDonald is about to meet Richard Simmons. Well, not exactly, but it sounds kind of funny in a bizarre sort of way, doesn't it?

Here's the deal. According to a Reuters report, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) will leverage its main clown's appeal with the Happy-Meal set by promoting exercise through videos. (If some kids have clown phobia, they'll still get plenty of exercise running away from their TVs). In the videos, a jovial Ronald will encourage good health and engage in kinetic activities like sports with children. In spring 2005, Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Warner Home Video operation will distribute the videos, which could actually be released as DVDs.

This idea is virtually free of any criticism. After all, McDonald's needs to change its reputation for being a purveyor of fat, and it certainly wants to take advantage of the ongoing trend of the health-conscious consumer. McDonald's is not alone. Consider Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and its low-carb C2 drink or PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) own edgy soda. Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) may have gotten a little too carried away with its efforts, while Hershey (NYSE:HSY) has tried to come down from its sugar high.

However, I do have one criticism -- a big one. The Reuters article mentioned something that caught my attention: "The videos will not be available in McDonald's restaurants." Um, come again? Not available in the restaurants? Now, I hope that won't turn out to be the case, because when I first read the news, I thought it was an ingenious plan. Not only would this move be yet another step toward the fast-food chain's goal to avoid the fat tax, it's yet another point of differentiation from the competition -- Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) certainly won't be offering Ronald's video escapades.

We'll have to see how this project eventually takes shape, but I do like the concept. I'm not sure how "phat" the younger generations think Ronald McDonald is these days, but at least he can't be called "fat."

Do you think McDonald's marketing move will help kids shed pounds? Share your opinions with other Fools on the McDonald's discussion board.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Coca-Cola.