Brits are suffering from malnutrition because people simply cannot afford food, experts have warned David Cameron.
Figures released earlier this month by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed hospital admissions for patients with malnutrition have increased from 5,590 to 6,690 in a one-year period.
Poor health due to poor diet is getting worse because of food poverty, vice president of the Faculty of Public Health, John Middleton, has told the BBC.
A Stuart Little volunteer grabs to pack at a food bank in Whitburn, Scotland
"It's getting worse because people can't afford good quality food. It's getting worse where malnutrition, rickets and other manifestations of extreme poor diet are becoming apparent," he said.
The number of people needing emergency supplies from food bank charity the Trussell Trust rose by more than a fifth this time last year, it said.
Charity director Adrian Curtis told the Daily Mirror they expect similar figures this year. "School holidays are especially difficult for low income families whose children usually receive free school meals or support from breakfast clubs," he told the newspaper.
In May a letter signed by 170 members of the faculty, the leading professional body for more than 3,300 public health specialists in the UK, was sent to David Cameron pressing for action over the issue of food poverty.
Part of the letter to the Prime Minister said: "Many hardworking families in the UK are living in poverty and do not have enough income for a decent diet."
Health Minister Dan Poulter said the rise in malnutrition could be down to better diagnosis. "We want to reduce levels of malnutrition, particularly amongst frail and elderly people," Poulter told the BBC. "We are working with Age UK on a half a million pound project, which aims to tackle the issue in a range of health and care settings. We've also given local authorities a £5.4bn budget over two years to help them manage public health issues, including malnutrition, in their areas."