HUNDREDS of patients across Wales have been diagnosed with malnutrition over the past few years, with the most cases recorded in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU) region.
And a leading South Wales nutritionist said these figures could be a lot higher in Swansea Bay.
Kirsten Davies, a senior nutritionist who founded The Food Remedy, said: "I am sure the real figures are a lot higher as food is less nutritious than ever before.
"People who are relying on food banks are eating food which has normally been processed and has been in storage for a while.
"Our lifestyles have moved away from allotments and growing produce to people turning to fast food which is lacking in essential vitamins.
"It is a real problem.
"If someone is malnourished they should get some supplements to get them back to the levels they need and then change the way they eat.
"We need to eat to nourish our bodies and need to go back to basics."
New figures from a Freedom of Information Act request show 1,229 patients in Wales have been diagnosed with malnutrition since 2007/08.
These patients include babies and children and show an average of 175 diagnosed cases per year in the country.
The greatest number of cases in Wales were diagnosed by doctors at ABMU, where a total of 735 patients were treated.
Hywel Dda University Health Board, where a total of 222 patients were treated in hospital for malnutrition, saw the greatest increase in cases.
The rate increased from three diagnoses in 2007/08 to a high of 46 in 2013/14.
The figures have emerged after the news that the number of people turning to food banks in Wales has more than quadrupled in two years.
Figures from 2011-2012 revealed the Trussell Trust helped 16,410 people. In 2012-2013 that rose to 35,653.
Earlier this year the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Right Reverend John Davies, said he agreed with fellow bishops and other clergy about their concerns over the growth of food banks in a letter posted in a national newspaper.
The letter said 500,000 people in the UK had visited food banks since last Easter, that 5,500 people were admitted to hospital for malnutrition last year, and that one in five mothers reported regularly skipping meals to better feed their children.
Bishop Davies said he believed the number of people visiting food banks was growing quickly.
"The reason for that is people are hungry and have less money to spend on proper nourishment," he said.
"It is, quite frankly, a bit silly of the government to say there is no truth in that. People in public life are there to do good. This swapping of insults is profoundly unhelpful.
"The government does just not seem to take on board that people are suffering. It is all very well to say that things are getting better, but try telling that to the most deprived estates in Swansea — the evidence suggests otherwise. While things may be getting better for people able to cope with financial difficulties, that is not universally the case."