Study shows weight loss reduces urinary incontinence


WASHINGTON Reducing urinary incontinence can now be added to the extensive list of health benefits of weight loss, according to a clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Office of Research on Women’s Health, both part of the National Institutes of Health, NIH announced Thursday.

The paper reporting the results of the trial will be published in the Jan. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise, conducted in Birmingham, Ala., and Providence, R.I., recruited a total of 338 obese and overweight women who leaked urine at least 10 times per week. The women were randomly assigned to either an intensive six-month weight-loss program of diet, exercise and behavior modification or to a group that received information about diet and exercise, but no training to help them change habits.

The investigators report that women in the intensive weight-loss group lost an average 8% of their body weight (about 17 lbs.) and reduced weekly urinary incontinence episodes by nearly one-half (47%). In contrast, women in the information-only group lost an average 1.6% of body weight (about 3 lbs.) and had 28% fewer episodes.

“Clearly, weight loss can have a significant, positive impact on urinary incontinence, a finding that may help motivate weight loss, which has additional health benefits such as preventing type 2 diabetes,” stated NIDDK Director Griffin Rodgers.

Urinary incontinence affects more than 13 million women in the United States and accounts for an estimated $20 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to the paper.

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