Chancellor George Osborne says “bring it on” to the threat of legal action from drinks firms.

Osborne said the government would fight any legal challenge to sugar tax, and warned companies against wasting money.  He added that firms would be better placed spending the next two years focusing on how to reduce sugar in their products.

He said: “We are very clear it is legal and we would robustly defend it if it were challenged. Don’t waste money on a legal challenge.”

He added that he felt a sugar tax would bring about an improvement in children’s health.

"Many companies are doing the right thing and reducing the sugar content in their drinks, and that is to be applauded. We are going to introduce a sugar tax. It’s not a threat or a promise, it’s the way it’s going to be.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has released new data showing that more than 90% of households consume more “added sugar” than recommended.

Written to the treasury

Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “The Chancellor is right that a good deal of time and money might be saved if there were clarity on these issues, and I have today written to the treasury requesting that they publish the advice so we can share it with our members.”

This week, campaign group Action on Sugar said that the bakery industry could be next.