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Children in Cambodia are suffering from malnutrition at a rate comparable to levels in famine-struck North Korea, the U.N. food agency's country director said Tuesday.

Although North Korea is suffering from a simple lack of food, a faltering economy in Cambodia combined with weak health care and education is causing similar levels of malnutrition in children, said Ken Davies, the World Food Program's country director.

According to a recent survey, 49 percent of Cambodian children younger than 5 are stunted by lack of food, and 20 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.

A similar survey of North Korean children younger than 7 found that 65 percent are stunted and that 16 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.

The food program is currently supporting 1.7 million Cambodians -- about 15 percent of the population. Davies said he fears that there are still plenty more who are not getting enough to eat every day.

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