A recent study has revealed that obesity is linked to urinary incontinence in young women. Obesity has the ability to double the risk of urinary incontinence in young to middle-aged women; however, research suggests that young women can reduce this risk by maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy, and exercising daily.
Obesity and Incontinence
When compared with women of average weight, researchers from the University of Queensland found that obese women ran twice the risk of developing urinary incontinence. It’s believed that the excess weight surrounding the abdomen places pressure on the bladder, leading to incidents of incontinence. In their study, the University of Queensland examined approximately 14 other studies that involved 47,293 women across eight different countries that expressed concerns with incontinence. In their findings, they discovered that nearly 35% of women who were overweight were more likely to have urinary incontinence. However, no differences were found between women younger than 36 and those 36-55 years of age. This finding is quite significant since countless studies that were previously carried out found an increased risk of urinary incontinence amongst older women. Now, it seems that younger women may have this risk. In light of this discovery, the researchers at the University of Queensland stated, “This result point to the importance of excess weight, above and beyond age-related risk” (source).
Additionally, there were a few limitations with the findings. For example, only five of the studies they examined accounted for the women who had given birth. They also did not specify the different categories of obesity. Tayla Lamerton, a PhD candidate in women’s health at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, explains, “We know that urinary incontinence can be a complex issue, especially among younger women…understanding overweight and obesity as a determinant of urinary incontinence could play a role in the way we counsel those affected by the condition, and our findings provide a building block to further explore lifestyle interventions for preventing and managing incontinence.”
For now, researchers recommend that obese women take the proper measures to live a healthier lifestyle. A reduction in weight could very well alleviate the pressure placed on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, and therefore, reduce the symptoms of incontinence.