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New guidance to help combat malnutrition in patients with COPD

Towards the end of last year, GPN flagged up the importance of identifying malnutrition in patients with COPD (

Today, a new practical guide ‘Managing Malnutrition in COPD’ ( has been launched to assist healthcare professionals in identifying and managing people with COPD who are at risk of disease-related malnutrition and includes a pathway for the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) to support community healthcare professionals. 

‘Managing Malnutrition in COPD’ has been developed by a multiprofessional panel, with expertise and an interest in malnutrition and COPD, and is endorsed by ten key professional and patient organisations including the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS), the British Lung Foundation (BLF), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the National Nurses Nutrition Group (NNNG), the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The document is based on clinical experience and evidence alongside accepted best practice.  It also includes a pathway to assist in the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements (sip feeds).  It is complemented by three colour coded patient leaflets which provide practical advice according to risk category (green – low risk, yellow – medium risk, red – high risk).

“Nurses play a key role in the treatment of patients with COPD” says Michaela Bowden, Lead Nurse Quality & Development (Respiratory), Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and the ARNS representative member of the ‘Managing Malnutrition in COPD’ expert panel, “and these guidelines will assist them in assessing the nutritional status of patients, putting appropriate nutritional care plans in place and referring on for dietetic input when required.  They also provide advice on frequency of review and follow-up. The colour-coded patient materials will be invaluable as they enable nurses to give targeted nutritional advice according to risk category.” 

‘Managing Malnutrition in COPD’ includes:

  • An overview of COPD and malnutrition including its causes and clinical consequences, cost implications and details on prevalence
  • Information on the identification and management of malnutrition in patients with COPD according to risk category
  • Guidance on optimising oral intake including dietary advice and the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements
  • A practical pathway on the appropriate use of oral nutritional supplements in the management of malnutrition in COPD

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