LONDON (AP) _ Prince Charles suggested Tuesday on a visit to the United Arab Emirates that banning McDonald's fast food was crucial for improving people's diets, a British news agency reported.
Charles's comments came while visiting the Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi for the launch of a public health campaign, Britain's Press Association news agency reported.
``Have you got anywhere with McDonald's? Have you tried getting it banned? That's the key,'' Charles asked one of the center's nutritionists, according to the news agency.
A McDonald's spokeswoman called the remark disappointing. ``This appears to be an off-the-cuff remark, in our opinion,'' she said on condition of anonymity, in line with company practice in Britain.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp. took steps last year to display nutrition facts on its packaging and vary its menu to counter charges that its food is unhealthy and contributes to obesity. There are 25 McDonald's franchises in the United Arab Emirates.
Charles, who is first in line to the British throne, is an active advocate of organic food. He set up a farm on his Highgrove Estate that does not use artificial pesticides or fertilizers in 1986.
The prince was in the United Arab Emirates with his wife, Camilla, as part of a tour of Gulf countries.
The United Arab Emirates has the world's second highest number of diabetes cases per capita. One out of five people aged 20 to 79 already suffers from the illness, while 40 percent of the population is at risk for developing it.