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The shocking impact of recession and austerity on England’s poorest people has come to light again in figures showing the number of malnutrition cases treated at NHS hospitals has nearly doubled since the economic downturn.

Primary and secondary diagnoses of malnutrition – caused by lack of food or very poor diet – rose from 3,161 in 2008/09 to 5,499 last year, according to figures released by the health minister Norman Lamb.

While the data does not include information on the circumstances of each diagnosis, the rise coincides with a dramatic increase in the cost of living, and a spike in demand for charity food hand-outs.

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