Obesity correlates with urinary incontinence. Might weight loss be an effective treatment?

Researchers from across the US decided to find out.

First, the details.

  • 338 overweight and obese women with at least 10 urinary-incontinence episodes per week participated.
  • They were randomly assigned to 2 treatments.
    • A 6-month weight-loss program that included diet, exercise, and behavior modification.
    • A structured education program.

And, the results.

  • The women on the weight loss program had 8% weight loss vs 2% with education — a significant difference.
  • After 6 months, the average weekly number of incontinence episodes decreased 47% in the weight loss group vs 28% with education alone — a significant difference.
  • The weight loss group had a significantly greater decrease in the frequency of stress-incontinence episodes vs education, but not in urge-incontinence episodes.
    • Stress incontinence occurs when involuntary pressure is put on the bladder by coughing, laughing, sneezing, or lifting or straining.
    • Urge incontinence occurs when there is involuntary contraction of the bladder muscle resulting in an urgent need to urinate accompanied by a sudden loss of urine.
  • The weight loss group had a significant and clinically relevant reduction of at least 70% in the frequency of all incontinence episodes vs the education group.

The bottom line?
A 6-month weight-loss program that includes diet, exercise, and behavior modification seems like an effective tool to improve control over urinary incontinence — particularly stress incontinence.

1/29/09 18:15 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.