Experts have warned that food poverty in the UK could soon become a “health emergency”.
Writing in the BMJ, six leading public health figures have warned that the number of malnutrition-related hospital admissions in England has doubled since 2008/09.
Along with more cheap, unhealthy foods being bought, there has also been a sharp rise in the number of people using food banks.
The experts said that malnutrition in children is particularly worrying as it increases the risk of cardiovascular and other adult chronic diseases.
A recent report from the Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks, said the number of people using their services has tripled to 350,000 in the past year.
David Taylor-Robinson, a population health scientists at the Medical Research Council and one of the authors of the letter, said: "It is clear people are increasingly struggling with their food bills.
"We need to start monitoring this and treating it as a public health problem. This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventive action.”