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Urinary Incontinence health centre

Weight loss

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have stress incontinence. It tells you about weight loss, a treatment used for stress incontinence.

We haven't looked at the evidence for weight loss in the same detail we have for the other treatments we cover. (See Our method to learn more.) But we wanted to cover this treatment because people often have questions about it.

What is it?

About one-third of women in developed countries are obese (very overweight). Stress incontinence is more common in women who are obese. [58] If you're obese, the extra weight may put more pressure on your abdomen. And this may put extra stress on your pelvic floor muscles, which help keep urine in your bladder. So losing weight might help.

How can it help?

There isn't very much research looking at whether losing weight will help stop your leaking. There are a few small studies showing that women who lose weight have fewer leaks. [59]

And there is one good study (a randomised controlled trial) that looked at whether a weight loss programme reduced the number of leaks in overweight women with incontinence. [59] It compared what happened in women who were in a diet, exercise, and behaviour change programme aimed at losing weight, with women in an education programme.

It found that those in the weight loss programme lost an average of 7.8 kilograms (just over a stone), while those in the education group lost an average of 1.5 kilograms (just over 3 pounds).

The women in the weight loss group had less stress incontinence, and reduced the average number of leaks they had a week from nine to four.

Glossary

obesity

If your body stores more energy than you need, this can make you overweight. The excess energy is stored in your fat cells. If your weight goes above a certain level, doctors call this obesity. Obesity is considered a medical condition. The excess weight can be a strain on your bones and joints. And if you are obese, you're more likely to get other diseases. Doctors have developed a scale for telling how much excess weight you have. This measure, called the body mass index (BMI), depends on your height.

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

For more terms related to Stress incontinence

Citations

For references related to Stress incontinence click here.
Last Updated: October 11, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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