The prevalence of wasting, but not stunting, has improved in the democratic People's Republic of Korea

Daniel J. Hoffman, Soo Kyung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is one of the nutritionally vulnerable countries of the world. The objectives of this paper were to determine the current prevalence of undernutrition among children using data from the latest national survey and to compare the findings with those from the previous national survey in 1997. In 2002 with cooperation from UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), the government of the DPRK conducted a survey of 6000 households with children < 7 y old using multiple-stage sampling methods. Data were collected for sociodemographic variables, use of WFP food aid, and anthropometric measures of the youngest child in the household. The prevalence of stunting (height for age Z-score less than -2.0) in all children was 39.4% (40.2 and 38.5% for boys and girls, respectively). The prevalence of wasting (weight for height Z-score less than -2.0) was 8.2% in all children (9.1 and 7.3% for boys and girls, respectively). Although the prevalence of wasting has decreased from 1997 (16.5%) to 2002 (8.2%), the prevalence of stunting has not changed between those years, 38.2 vs. 39.4%. Thus, we conclude that acute undernutrition is decreasing in the DPRK, but chronic undernutrition that results in stunting is still highly prevalent. Continued surveillance of nutritional status of children in the DPRK is warranted given the continued state of undernutrition in that country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-456
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Children
  • North Korea
  • Stunting
  • Undernutrition
  • Wasting

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