US fastfood giant McDonald's is continuing with efforts to create a healthier image for itself as it becomes the first restaurant chain in the US to offer the reduce-carbohydrate soft drink Coca-Cola C2.

McDonald's said it is offering Coca-Cola C2 at 27 restaurants in five markets on a trial basis, "as part of a continuing effort to offer customers a wide variety of menu choices that appeal to today's consumers' interest".

According to US soft drinks maker Coke, Coca-Cola C2 has half the carbohydrates, calories and sugar of regular cola.

McDonald's will be giving away cans or coupons for bottles of Coca-Cola C2 with various food purchases at the selected fastfood outlets this weekend. Eight McDonald's restaurants (three in the Chicago area and five in Los Angeles) will be the first to test and offer C2 as a fountain beverage.

The fastfood company said the Coca-Cola C2 sampling and test programme at McDonald's is part of an integrated marketing strategy surrounding Coca-Cola's beverage launch, but McDonald's has not yet decided if Coca-Cola C2 will become a permanent fountain beverage offering at McDonald's.