The European food industry should recognise the “enormous” economic potential of marketing healthy foods, says Robert Madelin, director general for health and consumer protection of the European Commission.

Addressing the Consumers, Farmers and Food conference at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London this week, Madelin said that at present rates two thirds of Europeans would be overweight or obese by 2030.

Food companies usually said that lack of exercise was more important than diet but there were nevertheless foods that should be consumed less (those high in fat, sugar and salt) and food that should be consumed more (fruit, vegetables and whole-grain products).

Madelin said Brussels wanted the food industry to enjoy a long period of stability once new systems for promoting health had bedded down, and while there were some actions pending, including measures on additives, flavouring and novel foods, Madelin said he does “not see the need for further radical upheaval in the foreseeable future”.