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J Urol. 2005 Jul;174(1):190-5.

Weight loss: a novel and effective treatment for urinary incontinence.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.



We evaluated the effect of weight loss on urinary incontinence (UI) in overweight and obese women.


A randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted among overweight and obese women experiencing at least 4 UI episodes per week. Women were randomly assigned to a 3-month liquid diet weight reduction program (24 in the immediate intervention group) or a wait-list delayed intervention group (24 in the wait-list control group). Participants in the wait-list control group began the weight reduction program in month 3 of the study. All women were followed for 6 months after completing the weight reduction program. Wilcoxon tests were used to compare intergroup differences in change in weekly UI episodes and quality of life scores.


A total of 48 women were randomized and 40 were assessed 3 months after randomization. Median (with 25% to 75% interquartile range [IQR]) baseline age was 52 years (IQR 47 to 59), weight was 97 kg (IQR 87 to 106) and UI episodes were 21 weekly (IQR 11 to 33). Women in the immediate intervention group had a 16 kg (IQR 9 to 20) weight reduction compared with 0 kg (IQR -2 to 2) in the wait-list control group (p <0.0001). The immediate intervention group experienced a 60% reduction (IQR 30% to 89%) in weekly UI episodes compared with 15% (IQR -9% to 25%) in the wait-list control group (p <0.0005) and had greater improvement in quality of life scores. Stress (p =0.003) and urge (p =0.03) incontinent episodes decreased in the immediate intervention vs wait-list control group. Following the weight reduction program the wait-list control group experienced a similar median reduction in weekly UI episodes (71%). Among all 40 women mean weekly UI episodes decreased 54% (95% CI 40% to 69%) after weight reduction and the improvement was maintained for 6 months.


Weight reduction is an effective treatment for overweight and obese women with UI. Weight loss of 5% to 10% has an efficacy similar to that of other nonsurgical treatments and should be considered a first line therapy for incontinence.

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