Currently, there is confusion about the value of using nutritional support to treat malnutrition and improve functional outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials (RCT) aimed to clarify the effectiveness of nutritional support in improving functional outcomes in COPD. A systematic review identified 12 RCT (n = 448) in stable COPD patients investigating the effects of nutritional support (dietary advice (1 RCT), oral nutritional supplements (10 RCT), enteral tube feeding (1 RCT)) versus control on functional outcomes. Meta-analysis of the changes induced by intervention found that while respiratory function (forced expiratory volume in 1 s, lung capacity, blood gases) was unresponsive to nutritional support, both inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength (maximal inspiratory mouth pressure +3.86 standard error (SE) 1.89 cm H2 O, P = 0.041; maximal expiratory mouth pressure +11.85 SE 5.54 cm H2 O, P = 0.032) and handgrip strength (+1.35 SE 0.69 kg, P = 0.05) were significantly improved and associated with weight gains of ≥2 kg. Nutritional support produced significant improvements in quality of life in some trials, although meta-analysis was not possible. It also led to improved exercise performance and enhancement of exercise rehabilitation programmes. This systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrates that nutritional support in COPD results in significant improvements in a number of clinically relevant functional outcomes, complementing a previous review showing improvements in nutritional intake and weight.
© 2013 The Authors. Respirology © 2013 Asian Pacific Society of Respirology.