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COPD: Avoiding Weight Loss

Some people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—especially those with emphysema—may be underweight and malnourished.

  • People with COPD often lose weight. When you lose weight, you lose muscle mass, including the muscles that help you breathe. This may make breathing more difficult.
  • Some people with COPD weigh too little for good health. People who are very underweight, especially those with emphysema, are at higher risk of death than are people with COPD who have a normal weight.1
  • To avoid losing weight and muscle mass, you generally need to eat more foods containing fat and protein. Because eating too much fat and targeting certain nutrients (such as protein) may have health risks, always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian before eating more of these foods to gain weight.

what.gif What causes weight and muscle loss in COPD?
why.gif Why is weight loss a concern in COPD?
how.gif How do I avoid weight loss in COPD?
where.gif Where to go from here


  1. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (2011). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of COPD. Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKen Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
Last RevisedFebruary 19, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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