The International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington released its 2012 Global Hunger Index of 120 nations, with individual scores from one to 100 determined by factors such as childhood mortality rates and the percentage of underweight children. The index is based on data from 2005 to 2010, the last year for which information is available.
North Korea's score stood at 19, up from 15.7 in 1997, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
While other countries have higher scores, suggesting a worse situation, North Korea's score grew more rapidly, 21 percent, than any other country in the world. It was followed by Burundi and Swaziland.
North Korea has had a weak economy, exacerbated by high military spending and an unproductive agricultural sector. The weather has also played a part in recent years with crippling floods.
In the early 1990s, the country endured a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of North Koreans. The GHI rose quickly during those years.