In 1974, the Committee on Pulmonary Rehabilitation at the American College of Chest Physicians defined the newly established field of Pulmonary Rehabilitation as "an art of medical practice wherein a individually tailored, multidisciplinary program is formulated which through accurate diagnosis, therapy, emotional support, and education, stabilizes or reverses both the physio and psychopathology of pulmonary disease and attempts to return the patient to the highest possible functional capacity allowed by his pulmonary handicap and overall life situation." The need for pulmonary rehabilitation has risen to a paramount state due the rise in the incidences of lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases. According to the American Lung Association, 84.8 million Americans have some form of chronic respiratory disease.
Nutrition plays an important part of maintenance on the road to recovery from pulmonary infliction. A person's nutritional habits can influence the degree of severity of pulmonary limitation. The nature of pulmonary diseases often can make consuming an adequate diet quite difficult.
Quite often, pulmonary patients have the body weight factors of either obesity or underweight to consider in nutritional rehabilitation. Being overweight increases the stress on the heart and lungs and hinders the flow of oxygen to all areas of the body. Excess fat in the abdominal area crowds the diaphragm and causes strain in expanding the lungs.
Underweight is a problem due to malnutrition to the muscles. An increase in caloric needs and an adequate diet is needed to develop the muscles of the respiratory system. Patients suffer malnutrition when their caloric need can not keep up with the rate that the body burns calories in its attempt to feed the perpetually straining pulmonary muscles.