Weight loss may prevent diabetic incontinence

March 1, 2012

Overweight women with diabetes can cut their risk for developing urinary incontinence (UI) by shedding 5% to 10% of their body weight or as little as 15 pounds (7.7 kg), according to findings from the Look AHEAD trial, a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial of overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Overweight women with diabetes can cut their risk for developing urinary incontinence (UI) by shedding 5% to 10% of their body weight or as little as 15 pounds (7.7 kg), according to findings from the Look AHEAD trial, a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial of overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The trial involved 2,739 women, 45 to 76 years of age, with body mass indices (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or greater. The women were stratified into two groups. The first received intensive lifestyle intervention and modification counseling designed to promote weight loss of at least 7% per year. Professionals encouraged the women to consume low-calorie, low-fat diets, to control portions with liquid meal replacements, and to exercise at least 175 minutes per week. These women checked in weekly for 6 months and then three times monthly for another 6 months. The second group received far more limited diabetes support and education: In 1 year, they attended only three group sessions that focused on diet, physical activity, and social support.

At 1 year, those who lost the weight were 25% less likely to develop UI in general and 40% less likely to have stress UI. Each kilogram of weight lost reduced the odds of developing UI by 3% (P=0.01). Weight losses of 5% to 10% reduced the odds by almost half (47%; P=0.002).

Phelan S, Kanaya AM, Subak, LL. Weight loss prevents urinary incontinence in women with type 2 diabetes: Results from the Look AHEAD trial. J Urol. 2012;187(3):947-952.