Among the growing list of ailments associated with obesity, it’s hard to think of one more mortifying than urinary incontinence. Fortunately, new research shows losing weight can dramatically reduce the frequency of such troublesome and embarrassing episodes.
The University of San Francisco study gathered a group of 338 middle-aged, overweight and obese women who averaged about two bouts of urinary incontinence a day.Two-thirds of the women embarked on a diet and exercise program, losing an average of 17 pounds after six months. The result: a 47% reduction in the number of incontinence episodes experienced. Of the 13 million Americans afflicted by urinary incontinence 85% are women, who are particularly vulnerable, as both childbirth and menopause can weaken the muscles needed for bladder control. Obesity aggravates the problem by putting extra pressure on the bladder, and possibly even weakening muscles further with spillover fat.
Indeed, the bladder is just one of many organs impacted by obesity — which also undermines the heart, kidneys, brain, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. Previous research suggests that a volumetric approach to weight loss — eating one’s fill of low-calorie, nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables — is the surest and healthiest route to long-term weight loss.
Bonus: For optimum bladder health, eat more cranberries and blueberries, both of which contain compounds which might protect against urinary tract infection by preventing bacteria from adhering to bladder walls.
Published March 1, 2010