Matthew Taylor and Rebecca Smithers

The Prince sees it as key to improving children's health

LONDON: It is unlikely that the Prince of Wales has ever sat at a plastic table in his local McDonald's and tucked into a Big Mac and fries. But on Tuesday the organic farmer did not let his lack of firsthand experience deter him, when he suggested that a global ban on the fast food giant was the key to improving children's health.

During a tour of a diabetes centre in the United Arab Emirates, he asked a nutritionist: "Have you got anywhere with McDonald's, have you tried getting it banned? That's the key."

A spokeswoman for the Prince, who was travelling with him and the Duchess of Cornwall on their 10-day trip, said Prince Charles was simply promoting healthy eating and the "importance of a balanced diet, especially for children."

McDonald's said the comment, made as Prince Charles toured the Imperial College London diabetes centre in Abu Dhabi, was "disappointing" and showed he was out of touch. A spokeswoman said other, younger royals had visited McDonald's and had a more "up-to-date picture" of what the company stood for.

Food campaigners welcomed the Prince's intervention. A spokesperson for the U.K. National Heart Forum said it was important that high-profile figures made the connection between healthy eating and well-being. "There are things that companies do which we would argue influence children's diets in an unhelpful way," she said.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007

More In: Today's Paper