06/25/2009 - News

Weight Loss Seems to Reduce Urinary Incontinence

By: June Chen, MD


Obesity is an established risk factor for the development of urinary incontinence, but it is not conclusively known if weight loss has a beneficial effect in decreasing the frequency of urinary leakage. According to a study published in the January 29, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, an intensive 6-month weight loss program seems to reduce urinary incontinence .

 Researchers from the University of California San Francisco and their colleagues identified 338 overweight and obese women with an average age of 53 years who reported at least 10 urinary-incontinence episodes per week. These women were randomly assigned to either a 6-month weight-loss program that included diet, exercise, and behavior modification or a structured education program. After six months, the women who were assigned to the weight-loss program had an average weight loss of 8% and they reported a 47% decrease in the number of incontinence episodes per week, as compared to a 28% decrease in the women who were assigned to the education program.

These findings suggest that a 6-month behavioral intervention focused on weight loss reduces the frequency of urinary incontinence episodes. Combined with the myriad other health benefits associated with weight loss, this is promising news for women who struggle with incontinence.


NEJM. 2009;360:481-490.

Created on: 02/06/2009
Reviewed on: 06/25/2009

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