Word on Health

Word on C.O.P.D. & Malnutrition

Our grateful thanks to the Malnutrition Pathway for their contribution to our radio report, which you can hear again via the audio player at the bottom of this page.

Malnutrition &  COPD Background Malnutrition affects 1 in 3 inpatients and 1 in 5 outpatients with COPD. This can develop gradually over several years or quickly with exacerbations. Low BMI and low muscle mass contribute to poorer outcomes. Appropriate nutrition can make a difference. Dietary advice and nutritional supplementation can promote significant weight gain and achieve significant improvements in respiratory muscle strength and health-related quality of life.

The causes of malnutrition in COPD are multi-factorial and arise as a result of:


  • • Disease effects e.g. breathlessness, anorexia, inflammation
  • • Psychological factors e.g. motivation, apathy, depression
  • • Social factors e.g. social isolation, death of a partner, lack of practical support
  • • Environmental factors e.g. living conditions, access to shops, limited finances.
  • • Increased nutritional requirements e.g. energy, protein.
  • • Medication: - inhaled therapy and oxygen therapy causing taste changes, dry mouth - frequent or prolonged use of corticosteroids adversely affecting bone density, muscle mass (lean tissue)


Managing Malnutrition In COPD Materials In 2023 a consensus panel of 13 experts in the field of COPD and malnutrition convened to review the existing professional and patient materials considering the latest relevant clinical data and developments in the treatment of patients with COPD and they have recently launched versions of the materials. The resources can be downloaded for free  - click here to access  

The Expert Consensus Panel represented members of the multi-disciplinary team involved in the care of patients with COPD and included Specialist Dietitians, Respiratory and Nutrition Nurses and Physiotherapists as well as a Respiratory Specialist Consultant, a Lead PCN Senior Pharmacist and a Respiratory Lead GP.

The materials have been endorsed by 9 professional and patient organisations including Asthma + Lung UK, the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the Royal College of Nursing, the National Nurses Nutrition Group, the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, the Primary Care Respiratory Society, the Primary Care Pharmacy Association, the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care and Education for Health.

The professional update provides a valuable summary of the current evidence and a step-by-step guide to help members of the healthcare team optimise nutrition in individuals with COPD. As the nutritional needs of people with COPD may vary over time,

3 complimentary patient-friendly leaflets give practical advice according to nutritional status, malnutrition risk & disease status, including key lifestyle tips on improving health and well-being when living with COPD.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.