Obese women can add reduced incontinence to benefits of weight loss

February 12, 2009

Behavioral weight-loss programs can be effective for reducing urinary incontinence in women who are overweight or obese, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2009; 360:481-90).

Behavioral weight-loss programs can be effective for reducing urinary incontinence in women who are overweight or obese, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2009; 360:481-90).

Women who participated in the Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE) experienced both significant weight loss and a significant reduction in the frequency of their incontinence episodes, according to results from the study.

The multicenter, randomized trial included 338 overweight and obese women (age 42 to 64 years) who experienced at least 10 episodes of incontinence per week. They were randomly assigned to either an intensive 6-month weight-loss program that included group diet, exercise, and behavioral modification sessions, or to a control group that received weight loss information but no structured program. All participants received a booklet describing current methods for improving incontinence, including exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

The results support the inclusion of weight reduction as a first-line treatment for incontinence for overweight and obese women, according to lead author Leslee L. Subak, MD of the University of California, San Francisco.

“Our results suggest that a decrease in urinary incontinence can now be added to the extensive list of health benefits associated with weight loss,” Dr. Subak said.