Weight Loss Found to Improve Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a problem that plagues over 13 million American women today. Left untreated, incontinence usually worsens, and can be the first step in a debilitating withdrawal from life. Common treatments include bladder training, pelvic muscle exercises, medication, avoiding food irritants, and in some cases, surgery. Incontinence may be caused by weakening of the muscles which control bladder outflow, disorders of the nervous system or obstruction to the bladder. New studies show that being overweight also contributes to incontinence—and losing weight may help the problem.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and University of Alabama at Birmingham worked with volunteer participants in the Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE). The study subjects were all overweight or obese, and experienced up to 10 episodes of incontinence per week. They went on a six-month program of diet, exercise and behavior modification. At the end of the six month period, participants had lost on average 17 pounds, and had cut their incontinence episodes in half.

Study author Dr. Leslee Subak said that weight loss should be a first-line treatment for incontinence when patients are significantly overweight. Co-author Dr. Frank Franklin said, “Earlier research has shown that behavioral weight loss programs have many benefits, including decreasing blood pressure and helping to fight off diabetes. Here we’ve shown that weight loss has measurable impact on reduced incontinence.”

Copyright © AgeWise, 2013 reporting on University of Alabama Birmingham news release