Rationale: Malnutrition in patients with COPD is associated with an impaired pulmonary status, reduced diaphragmatic mass, lower exercise capacity, and higher mortality rate when compared to adequately nourished individuals with COPD. Nutritional support may therefore be a useful part of their comprehensive care.
Purpose: To conduct a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to clarify whether nutritional supplementation (caloric supplementation for at least 2 weeks) improved anthropometric measures, pulmonary function, respiratory muscle strength, and functional exercise capacity in patients with stable COPD.
Methods: RCTs were identified from several sources, including the Cochrane Airways Group register of RCTs, a hand search of abstracts presented at international meetings, and consultation with experts. Two reviewers independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed quality, and extracted the data. Within each trial and for each outcome, we calculated an effect size. The effect sizes were then pooled by a random-effects model. Homogeneity among the effect sizes was also tested.
Results: From 272 references, nine RCTs were ultimately included. Six articles were considered as high quality. Only two studies were double blinded. For each of the outcomes studied, the effect of nutritional support was small: the 95% confidence intervals around the pooled effect sizes all included zero. The effect of nutritional support was homogeneous across studies.
Conclusion: Nutritional support had no effect on improving anthropometric measures, lung function, or functional exercise capacity among patients with stable COPD.