ATLANTA—Increasing body mass index (BMI) is associated with an increased prevalence of urinary incontinence (UI) symptoms, and BMI status varies substantially by gender and UI subgroup, according to results presented at the American Urological Association 2012 annual meeting.

“This suggests a different mechanism for the higher rate of UI than purely a mechanical stress on the bladder,” researchers led by Karen S. Coyne, PhD, United BioSource Corporation in Chevy Chase, Md., concluded.

In a cross-sectional survey conducted over the Internet in the United States, United Kingdom, and Sweden, 10,070 men and 13,178 women were evaluated for urinary symptoms, including urge urinary incontinence (UUI), stress urinary incontinence (SUI), and other forms of leaking.

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The investigators found that obesity rates (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater) were highest among both male and female subjects with symptoms of both UUI and SUI.

In men, obesity was associated with any UI, UUI only, UUI and other forms of leaking, and other forms of leaking only. In women, obesity was associated with any UI, both UUI and SUI, UUI only, SUI only, and SUI with other forms of leaking, while being overweight (BMI 25-29.9) was associated with SUI only, UUI only, and SUI with other forms of leaking.

Compared with overweight subjects, the obese group showed an increased prevalence of both UUI and SUI as well as UUI only, but not SUI only.

“Obesity is a modifiable risk factor for UI,” the authors reported in a poster presentation. “Men and women who maintain a healthy weight in the normal BMI range may be able to reduce their risk for developing UI, and those who lose weight may be able to decrease their episodes of UI.”