WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- More than 40 percent of North Korea's population is at high risk for malnutrition, according to a think tank.
The International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., stated in its annual report on the global hunger index that 4 out of 10 North Koreans are not getting enough food, Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday.
The IFPRI recommended the North Korean government address the critical food situation with better policies.
In 2016 North Korea's food shortage scored a 28.6 on IFPRI's global hunger index, in a year when the average GHI score for developing countries was 21.3 on a scale of 50.
A score of 50 represents the most extremely alarming level of hunger in a country, with scores between 30 and 50 signifying crisis levels of hunger, according to the report.
Scores between 20 and 30 like North Korea's imply dangerous levels of hunger that need to be addressed immediately.
North Korea's score of 28.6 is higher than its score in 1990, when IFPRI began issuing the index. That year, North Korea scored 16.2, well below crisis levels, and less than a quarter of the population was at high risk for malnutrition.
The score takes into account four criteria: the percentage of the population that is undernourished, the percentage of children under the age of 5 who suffer from low weight for height and stunted growth, and the percentage of children who die before the age of 5.
The report comes less than a month after Seoul said North Korea is short nearly 700,000 tons of food for fiscal year 2016, which began in November 2015 and ends in October.
Citing data from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, South Korea's unification ministry told South Korean lawmakers food demand in North Korea was about 5.5 million tons, but food production only reached 4.8 million tons.