Malnutrition is highly prevalent in dialysis patients and associated with poor outcomes. In 2008, protein–energy wasting (PEW) was coined by the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism (ISRNM), as a single pathological condition in which undernourishment and hypercatabolism converge. In 2014, a new simplified score was described using serum creatinine adjusted for body surface area (sCr/BSA) to replace a reduction of muscle mass over time in the muscle wasting category. We have now compared PEW–ISRNM 2008 and PEW-score 2014 to evaluate the prevalence of PEW and the risk of death in 109 haemodialysis patients. This was a retrospective analysis of cross sectional data with a median prospective follow-up of 20 months. The prevalence of PEW was 41 % for PEW–ISRNM 2008 and 63 % for PEW-score 2014 (P<0·002). Using PEW-score 2014: twenty-nine patients (27 %) had severe malnutrition (PEW-score 2014 0–1) and forty (37 %) with moderate malnutrition (score 2). Additionally, thirty-three (30 %) patients had mild wasting and only seven patients (6 %) presented a normal nutritional status. sCr/BSA correlated with lean total mass (R 0·46. P<0·001). A diagnosis of PEW according to PEW-score 2014, but not according to PEW–ISRNM 2008, was significantly associated with short-term mortality (P=0·0349) in univariate but not in multivariate analysis (P=0·069). In conclusion, the new PEW-score 2014 incorporating sCr/BSA identifies a higher number of dialysis PEW patients than PEW–ISRNM 2008. Whereas PEW-score-2014 provides timelier and therefore more clinically relevant information, its association with early mortality needs to be confirmed in larger studies.