A study of United Nations data shows the diet of North Koreans has changed little over the past 50 years.
National Geographic studied changes in diet from 1961 to 2011 in 22 countries, including North Korea. The study found that a North Korea adult consumed about 2,103 calories a day in 2011. That represents an increase from 1,878 calories in 1961. But it is much lower than the 2,500 calories a day suggested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The data also suggests the average North Korean has an unbalanced diet. National Geographic magazine also says the diet of North Koreans is more dependent on grain than any of the 22 countries studied.
North Koreans also eat very little meat.The amount of meat consumed dropped sharply during the country’s famine in the 1990s. But after the food shortages ended, the amount of meat consumed remains low. An average North Korean consumed 141 grams of meat a day in 1989. By 2011, after years of famines and food shortages, that number had dropped to 67 grams.
In 1961, North Koreans had a similar diet to South Koreans. But in the past 50 years, the South Korean diet has improved. The daily caloric intake has increased from 2,140 to 3,329 per person. The percentage of grains in the South Korean diet has dropped from 82 percent to 43 percent. In 1961, meat represented just two percent of the South Korean diet. By 2011, it was 12 percent.