Soaring numbers of people in Britain are going without food due to the cost of living crisis, according to new research.
A survey by the Food Foundation found that some 7.3m adults live in households that skipped meals in April either because they could not afford food or because they could not access it.
That compares to 4.7m adults in January - an increase of 57 per cent in just three months.
The survey also found that 2.4m adults have not eaten for a whole day because they could not afford or get access to food.
The Food Foundation said rising energy costs, allied to increased prices in the shops, were leading to greater food insecurity.
Anna Taylor, the organisation’s executive director, said “The extremely rapid rise in food insecurity since January points to a catastrophic situation for families.
“Food insecurity puts families under extreme mental stress and forces people to survive on the cheapest calories which lead to health problems.
“The situation is rapidly turning from an economic crisis to a health crisis. Food
banks cannot possibly be expected to solve this.
“The government needs to realise the boat is sinking for many families and it needs to be fixed. Bailing out with emergency food parcels is not going to
Professor Sir Michael Marmot of University College London said “Food is basic, but so is security. Both are vital to good health.
“If one household in seven is food insecure, society is failing in a fundamental way. These figures on food insecurity are all the more chilling because the problem is soluble, but far from being solved it is getting worse.”
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth said: “These are devastating findings that reveal the acute levels of hunger impacting families and children nationwide caused by the Conservative cost of living crisis.
“The Tory cuts to Universal Credit, rocketing energy bills, their punishing tax rise and real terms pensions cut is pushing more and more working people, families and pensioners to food bank queues.
“With warnings of inflation heading to 10 per cent it’s clear Boris Johnson has lost control of the cost of living crisis causing devastating hardship across the country.”
Last week, environment secretary George Eustice sparked anger when he suggested families buy supermarket own brand food to help make ends meet.
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and we are doing what we can to help, including spending £22bn across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty.
“For the hardest hit, we’re putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families on universal credit, have also boosted the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and our household support fund is there to help with the cost of everyday essentials.”