TAKEAWAY businesses, excessive screen time and drive-thru fast food restaurants could all be worsening Cumbria’s health, a meeting heard.

The warning was made in a discussion about the county’s new 10-year public health strategy drawn up by Cumbria County Council.

Colin Cox, the director of public health for Cumbria, said the county’s health generally followed the trend of England’s but performed worse in certain areas.

He said life expectancy had “slowed” both nationally and in the county. One in four children starting school in Cumbria are not a healthy weight either. Cllr Phil Dixon, the cabinet member for health and wellbeing for South Lakeland District Council, said the authorities faced crises in obesity, social isolation and mental health.

“We live in a free society,” said Cllr Dixon. “If you want to open a burger bar, you can open as many as you like. So it’s really up to district councils and our ongoing policies to ask if we are going to have an attitude towards this.”

“I know there’s a prospect of McDonald’s opening up a drive-thru in Ulverston, and I keep thinking have I got an opinion on that? In a bygone age you knew what you were eating because you made it yourself.”

Cllr Anne Hall, of Coniston, said rural areas did not have takeaways close to home so people learned to cook for themselves.

“How many takeaways has Barrow got, because that has to be addressed as well,” said Cllr Hall, the Conservative councillor for Broughton and Furness. Cllr Brian Cooper said he did not expect future generations to live as long as his grandparents.

“In the old days people smoked and drank but they got a lot of exercise,” said Cllr Cooper, the Conservative councillor for Burton and Crooklands. He said people used to cycle to work and children walked to school but now they got lifts and went straight on technology when they got home.

“They are not getting the exercise like our generation did,” he said. Cllr Doug Rathbone said some of the figures for Cumbria were “quite shocking”.