Weight loss to treat urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women

Academic Article


  • Background: Obesity is an established and modifiable risk factor for urinary incontinence, but conclusive evidence for a beneficial effect of weight loss on urinary incontinence is lacking. Methods: We randomly assigned 338 overweight and obese women with at least 10 urinary- incontinence episodes per week to an intensive 6-month weight-loss program that included diet, exercise, and behavior modification (226 patients) or to a structured education program (112 patients). Results: The mean (±SD) age of the participants was 53±11 years. The body-mass index (BMI) (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) and the weekly number of incontinence episodes as recorded in a 7-day diary of voiding were similar in the intervention group and the control group at baseline (BMI, 36±6 and 36±5, respectively; incontinence episodes, 24±18 and 24±16, respectively). The women in the intervention group had a mean weight loss of 8.0% (7.8 kg), as compared with 1.6% (1.5 kg) in the control group (P<0.001). After 6 months, the mean weekly number of incontinence episodes decreased by 47% in the intervention group, as compared with 28% in the control group (P = 0.01). As compared with the control group, the intervention group had a greater decrease in the frequency of stress- incontinence episodes (P = 0.02), but not of urge-incontinence episodes (P = 0.14). A higher proportion of the intervention group than of the control group had a clinically relevant reduction of 70% or more in the frequency of all incontinence episodes (P<0.001), stress-incontinence episodes (P = 0.009), and urge-incontinence episodes (P = 0.04). Conclusions: A 6-month behavioral intervention targeting weight loss reduced the frequency of self-reported urinary-incontinence episodes among overweight and obese women as compared with a control group. A decrease in urinary incontinence may be another benefit among the extensive health improvements associated with moderate weight reduction. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00091988.) Copyright © 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Subak LL; Wing R; West DS; Franklin F; Vittinghoff E; Creasman JM; Richter HE; Myers D; Burgio KL; Gorin AA
  • Start Page

  • 481
  • End Page

  • 490
  • Volume

  • 360
  • Issue

  • 5