Fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola has again come under fire in Cumbria, with claims it promotes sugary drinks to children.

This time the county's public health director has compared its supermarket displays to those used by the tobacco industry to market cigarettes before they were banned from view.

Colin Cox's comments followed a speech by Robin Ireland, director of research at north west organisation Food Active, at the Healthy Weight Summit held in the county yesterday.

He used it to condemn the marketing tactics of firms like Coca-Cola, also comparing them to the tobacco industry.

It comes just months after the county's health leaders, including Mr Cox, caused controversy when they wrote to the firm, asking it to keep its Christmas truck tour away from the county.

Although it was never banned by the council, Mr Ireland said he believes they should be able to stop it.

Mr Ireland said: "I've been going on about the Coca-Cola truck for a long time.

"We are now asking what we can do to physically stop Coca-Cola coming. We are talking to Public Health England."

Coca-Cola insists it does not market its full-sugar drink at young children, only offering them low sugar versions.

But Mr Cox went as far as comparing the brand's supermarket shelf displays to cigarette stands of old.

"The last time I was in a big supermarket I looked at the soft drinks. I was looking at the Coke on the shelves and the display was massive because there was normal Coke, Diet Coke, Vanilla Coke - all these different versions," he said.

"I thought to myself I have seen these tactics before, and they were used by the tobacco industry. They had variations of the same brand to get a huge amount of shelf space.

"You could stand by that shelf and see nothing but Coca-Cola in your peripheral vision."

Senior Barrow councillor, Brendan Sweeney, agreed that the marketing campaigns are a big part of the obesity challenge.

He said that the display in the town's Tesco store at Christmas was a giant cardboard Coca-Cola truck, containing only the full sugar red bottles.

"You could buy 1,470 calories for £2.50. That entire shelf was red, promoting classic Coke," he said.

People's health will suffer if councils don't clamp down on unhealthy food and drink outlets, a north west obesity campaigner has warned.

Robin Ireland, director of research at Food Active, called on local authorities to think about healthy regeneration.

"If regeneration is all based on fast food outlets and alcohol, you know that someone is going to pay for it further down the line.

"If McDonald's is the cornerstone of your community, I would argue it is not appropriate," he said.

Mr Ireland called on local authorities to ensure their departments and councillors talk to each other and encourage healthy planning.

"Is there something you can do at a local level?" he asked.

"It's not economic regeneration versus communities, you have to do both."

He denied that this was a nanny state approach, saying someone had to counter the marketing messages coming from the food and drink industry.

"I find that completely bizarre. When you compare the budget we've got compared to McDonald's or Coca-Cola, we are not the nanny state.

"We are trying to support our communities."