Overweight and obese women who lose weight may experience a decrease in urinary incontinence, a study shows.

The Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE) recruited 338 overweight and obese women (BMI 25-50 kg/m2) who reported at least 10 episodes of stress or urge incontinence weekly.

All participants received a booklet with basic information on managing leaks and strengthening the pelvic floor. They were then randomly assigned either to an intensive weight-loss regimen or to general education sessions about healthy eating and physical activity (control group).

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After six months, subjects in the intensive weight-loss group lost an average of 8% of their body weight (about 17 lb), researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (2009;360:481-490).

Their weekly incontinence episodes declined by 47%. Participants in the control group lost only 1.6% of their body weight on average (about 3 lb). Still, they had 28% fewer incontinence episodes.