The main trade association for the food and drink industry has said there is no evidence to justify the introduction of a sugar tax in Ireland.

A levy on soft drinks is to be introduced in the UK in two years' time to tackle increasing levels of obesity.

Director of Food and Drink Industry Ireland Paul Kelly said that introducing a similar measure in Ireland would be an example of "double taxation", as the standard rate of VAT – 23% - is already applied to fizzy drinks.

Mr Kelly said that "reformulation" was a better alternative to a sugar tax.

He said that the industry was already reducing sugar content in soft drinks, and had introduced low-calorie and low-sugar products.

He described as "patchy" the success of similar initiatives elsewhere.

Mr Kelly said that in France, four years on from the introduction of a tax on fizzy drinks, sales of the products were now only about 1% lower than they were before the levy.

Earlier this week a report by health watchdog Safefood found that some brands of energy drinks contain more than 16 teaspoons of sugar.