Obesity and Incontinence: How to Manage and Treat

Obesity and incontinence often go hand in hand, with obesity commonly contributing to the development of urinary incontinence. Let's examine the connection between them and discuss potential management strategies.

Obesity and Incontinence: How to Manage and Treat

Obesity and incontinence often go hand in hand, with obesity commonly contributing to the development of urinary incontinence. Let's examine the connection between them and discuss potential management strategies.

The rate of obesity in developed countries continues to increase. United Kingdom is expected to see an increase in obesity levels in 2022, with a projected 63.9% of the population being classified as obese. This is a slight rise of 0.3 percentage points from the previous year.

Obesity in and of itself is a complex issue, with many different factors increasing the likelihood that an individual may be overweight or obese. It’s associated with many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, gall bladder and liver disease, hypertension and an increased risk of numerous cancers.

Obesity is also often correlated to experiences of urinary or faecal incontinence. Urinary incontinence affects close to 50% of middle-aged and older women around the world, creating health challenges they must navigate throughout their daily activities.

As obesity is a common risk factor for stress-related and mixed urinary incontinence, it’s also been identified as the most important risk factor for daily urinary incontinence. This connection is weaker for urge incontinence and overactive bladder syndrome.

If you or a loved one are experiencing incontinence or at risk of incontinence, considering how additional weight or obesity factors may increase the impact of incontinence can be a powerful step towards healthy management and increased longevity.

Urinary Incontinence and Abdominal Fat

The extra fat around the belly is one of the main reasons urinary incontinence and obesity are so closely correlated. Studies have shown that unhealthy BMI (height-to-weight ratio) and larger waist-to-hip ratios directly impact the likelihood of stress incontinence.

Technically, a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity. BMI is determined by dividing a person's body weight in kilogrammes by their height: the formula is kg/m2. You can find many BMI calculators online.

According to research, additional body weight leads to increased pressure on the abdomen, increasing pressure on the bladder and the urethra’s mobility.

Other studies point to obesity creating the potential for chronic and ongoing strain, which weakens the nerves and muscles of the pelvic area. For those who may be looking to reduce the effects of incontinence and who are carrying additional weight in this area, reducing abdominal fat is one long-term approach to minimising the impact.

So, would losing weight assist with incontinence?

Many studies have shown that weight loss based on behavioural or lifestyle choices, such as a good diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, can alleviate the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Not only does weight loss assist in lessening the impact on urinary incontinence, but it can also help to support greater long-term well-being and longevity, reducing the risk of other chronic diseases that are also related to obesity factors.

Even a small reduction in weight can contribute to healthier bladder and bowel movements, with the potential to reduce or remove the impact of incontinence altogether through simple lifestyle changes.

How to Treat Obesity-related Incontinence

There are several management options for incontinence caused by obesity or excess weight. While many people may have seen success with some of these methods, it's important to always discuss any type of long-term strategy with your healthcare professional. They can offer personalised advice based on your particular requirements and circumstances.

  • Introducing new lifestyle choices - those who are at risk of having incontinence due to obesity might reduce their chances by choosing whole, healthy foods and engaging in a regular exercise.

  • Intermittent fasting - it is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming meals within a shorter time window period during the day. For example, you are fasting for 16 hours and consuming all of your required daily calories within an 8-hour window (also known as the 16/8 method).

  • Reducing stress levels - as part of the body's fight-or-flight response, stress causes the production of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which at first suppress hunger. However, chronic stress can cause cortisol to remain in the system for a longer period of time, increasing hunger and perhaps causing people to eat more.

  • Slow and mindful eating - it takes time for us to realise we are truly full, so it's always better to chew slowly and only swallow when the food has been well chewed. Eating slowly not only increases the enjoyment of your meal but also improves your satiety cues.

  • Gradual weight loss program - one study found that following a systematic 6-month weight loss program significantly reduced urinary incontinence in close to half of the 338 obese participants. Please know that before starting any weight-loss programme, you should speak with your doctor or other healthcare practitioners. They may advise on risk factors and make sure that long-term weight loss is done in a gradual, controlled manner.

  • Pelvic floor training - Kegel exercises can be of great benefit to women looking to reduce the likelihood of ongoing incontinence. Pelvic floor muscles have a key role in preventing or minimising incontinence across all genders and age groups.

Simplifying the Management of Incontinence

No matter the cause of incontinence, learning how to manage it on a daily basis is key to living a confident, full life. Incontinence doesn’t have to mean the end of doing things you love and enjoy - with the right tools and support structures, you or your loved one can continue to enjoy their preferred daily activities and routines.

The right continence management products play a huge role in navigating incontinence. Ill-fitting pads or pants that may be prone to leakage can cause great distress and discomfort or lead to other potential health risks or problems, such as infections or UTIs.

When continence products fit well, are comfortable and meet the individual’s specific needs, they can make a world of difference to daily management. ConfidenceClub’s vision is to eliminate the burden of managing incontinence through the supply of products that are easy, positive and stress-free.

With continence management products that are exclusively European-made, ConfidenceClub’s pads and pants draw on unique advanced technologies. We deliver high absorbencies, advanced odour control and a comfortable fit within a thinner pad. Paired with the ‘It Fits Or It’s Free’ guarantee, our customers enjoy free 30-day returns and 100% money-back guarantees should their product not fit their needs exactly. Make the most of everyday life while living with incontinence with the help of ConfidenceClub’s proven incontinence products.

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