It's not just in obesity-obsessed Britain that healthy eating has become the chief concern of the food industry. It is now the number one issue for the world as well.

According to a survey of 300 grocery executives in 48 countries, "consumer health and nutrition" has displaced "the competitive landscape" as the number one priority for food retailers and manufacturers across the globe.

The issue is the top priority for retailers and number two for manufacturers.

The research is contained in CIES's 2007 Top of Mind report, which also shows that, while the UK is increasingly preoccupied with the environment, it may be a little further from the minds of those in other nations.

Corporate responsibility, encompassing sustainable development, social standards and corporate governance, ranks just fifth globally, although it has risen from 11th last year.

It rose from 11th to third for retailers only, but dropped from sixth to eighth place in the manufacturers' list of priorities.

CIES says concern over obesity was a key reason for consumer health and nutrition rising from third place in the 2006 survey to first place now.

"Health and nutrition has become such a powerful society trend because it encompasses a number of issues beyond obesity, such as demand for natural food and affordable health care," it claims in the report.