Weight loss eases urinary incontinence, reports Harvard Women’s Health Watch

Losing weight is good for so many health problems, from heart disease to diabetes. Shedding just 10 pounds, for example, can lower blood pressure. Add another new benefit to the list, reports the April 2009 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch: losing weight eases urinary incontinence in women who are overweight or obese. Obesity has long been associated with urinary leakage in women, but until now, there's been little research to confirm that losing weight would help reverse the problem—or to suggest how much weight loss would be needed. A new randomized trial found that moderate weight loss among heavy women who undertook a six-month diet and exercise program cut the frequency of urinary incontinence episodes by nearly half. The trial included 338 overweight women who leaked urine at least 10 times per week. They were randomly assigned to an intensive program of diet, exercise, and behavioral modification or to a control group that learned about the benefits of weight loss but received no other guidance. After six months, women in the first group had lost an average of 17 pounds and had 47% fewer urinary incontinence episodes; those in the control group lost an average of 3 pounds and reported 28% fewer episodes.
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