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How Does Obesity Affect Incontinence?

How Obesity Affects Incontinence

Obesity has become a widespread phenomenon over the past few decades. In the United States alone, obesity prevalence shot up from 30.5% in 1999-2000 to 42.4% in 2017-20181

Among the many issues that obesity brings with it is incontinence. Studies have shown that obesity is a significant risk factor for urinary incontinence2.

This article will talk about how obesity can lead to incontinence, and what you can do to manage your health.

In what ways does obesity contribute to incontinence?

Our bladders are quite sensitive. As a result, excessive weight gain might put too much pressure on them.

Let's discuss how excess weight can affect the bladder:

  • Too much weight in the mid-section of the body can increase a person’s chances of experiencing urinary incontinence.
  • With obesity in the mix, everyday activities such as coughing, laughing, kneeling, or even sneezing can cause stress incontinence leaks. 

Is it possible for abdominal fat to create bladder problems?

Fat deposits around the abdomen are one of the most crucial factors connecting obesity and incontinence. Excess weight in the abdominal area puts pressure on the bladder. 

The pressure could weaken or damage a person’s urethral structures and pelvic floor, increasing the chances of bladder leaks. 

Correlation between body mass index (BMI) & incontinence

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple tool that uses an individual’s weight and height to calculate which weight category they fall in - healthy, underweight, overweight, or obese. 

Here are some interesting facts from a study1 on obesity and urinary incontinence.

  • Every increase of 5 units in one's BMI is associated with a 20% to 70% increase in the chances of daily incontinence.
  • In obese women with a BMI above 40, about 28% had stress incontinence, 4% had urge incontinence, and about 32% had mixed incontinence. 

If you'd like to take a look at a simple chart to determine your own BMI, we've included this BMI Chart you can use. 

Does weight loss make incontinence disappear?

Research has shown that weight loss should be considered as a starting point for treating incontinence in overweight or obese people3.

Compared to people who gained weight, those who lost at least 5% to 10% of their body weight reported significantly higher reductions in episodes of urinary incontinence.

How can incontinence caused by pregnancy weight gain be avoided?

Incontinence is a common phenomenon during and after pregnancy. Since the body changes throughout pregnancy to accommodate a baby, it places pressure on the bladder.

Women can take a few preventative measures to avoid such issues from arising.

  • Kegel exercises are a great way of strengthening the pelvic floor.
  • Consuming a high-fiber diet reduces the chances of constipation and takes stress off the pelvic floor.
  • Avoiding carbonated and caffeinated drinks reduces the urge to use the restroom more often.

What are some ways to address obesity-related incontinence?

There are several ways to deal with obesity-related incontinence:

Hydration: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is vital. Just be sure to taper off the amount of fluids you drink at night to avoid frequent nighttime urination.

Diet regulation: Discuss your diet with your doctor to find the right balance. In general, foods high in sugar, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages are not the best choices for preventing incontinence.

Exercising: Exercising promotes weight management that reduces the risk of incontinence by taking pressure off the bladder. Kegel exercises are also recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

Making a bathroom schedule: Get into the habit of emptying your bladder on schedule throughout the day. It may reduce the urge to urinate at unexpected times.

Protection: Incontinence protection products, such as liners, pads, briefs, and adult diapers are specifically designed to control leaks.

Which absorbent products are best for managing incontinence?

Incontinence can be pretty irritating at times. However, you can make your experience manageable with the right products.

Norton Hurley hosts a range of absorbent products that are fit for people facing obesity and incontinence.

Here are some industry leading products that can help restore a sense of normalcy to your life:

1. Tranquility Bariatric Tabbed Brief

Tranquility Bariatric Unisex Tabbed Brief, Heavy absorbency, Urine & Fecal

This tabbed brief is suited for both urine and fecal issues, and can comfortably be used by both men and women. It is made with soft and quiet materials that reduce noise. These briefs are designed to keep the skin dry and safe.


  • Wetness indicator changes color to let caregivers know it’s time for a change
  • Refastenable tabs allow you to reshape the brief as needed
  • Designed to hold the skin without being sticky
  • Breathable backing material promotes air circulation and keeps the skin dry and healthy
  • Cloth-like materials make users comfortable without any odor
  • Absorbent Peach Mat Core keeps liquid locked in even in cases of heavy incontinence
  • Can be used overnight
  • Elastic cuffs enable a better fit and a secure barrier for incontinence

2. Prevail Bariatric Adjustable Briefs

Prevail Bariatric Adjustable Unisex Briefs, Ultimate absorbency, Breathable, Odor-free 

The Prevail Bariatric Adjustable Briefs are perfect for severe cases of incontinence (usable by men and women alike). They soak up the incontinence and transform it into a gel form, ensuring that the briefs remain dry.


  • Suited for bedridden or immobile people
  • Refastenable tabs allow users to adjust the briefs easily
  • Stretchy side panels ensure a soft and flexible fit
  • Odor guard technology traps all foul smells and maintains freshness
  • Cloth-like backing material and topsheet reduce noise and enhance comfort
  • Breathable design allows proper circulation for skin health
  • Can be used overnight

3. TENA Stretch Super Tabbed Brief

TENA Stretch Super Unisex Tabbed Brief, Heavy Absorbency, Wetness indicator

These briefs have specifically been designed for those dealing with high incontinence and need maximum possible protection at night. They keep users dry and odor-free, ensuring a comfortable experience.


  • Heavy absorption keeps users comfortable all night
  • Odor control locks fluids away to reduce unpleasant smells
  • InstaDri Skin-Caring technology wicks moisture away from the skin
  • Stretch side panels offer an accurate and secure fit
  • Wetness indicator lets caregivers know it is time for a change
  • Curved elastic gathers form a strong leakage barrier
  • Full-length hook fasteners can be pulled up or down like an underwear

4. Caroli Incontinence Pullup Underwear

Caroli Unisex Incontinence Pullup Underwear, Heavy absorbency, Odor-locking

Caroli’s Incontinence Pullup Underwear are capable of absorbing up to 34 fluid ounces per brief. They are extremely secure, and you can find them in four different sizes. These underwear are safe and suited for both men and women.


  • Padded with silky soft materials to minimize noise
  • Powerful odor control system reduces odor intensity by 50% to 60% using a pH balancing system
  • Seams and commonly breached areas are doubly secured
  • Tested by third-party dermatologists to ensure the absence of side effects, such as skin irritation
  • Cloth-like materials make it feel like a regular underwear
  • Discreet packaging and delivery ensure privacy and security


What causes obesity?

Obesity is often induced by eating too much and exercising insufficiently. If you eat a lot of calories, especially fat and sugar, but don't burn it off via exercise and physical activity, your body will store a lot of it as fat in case it is needed later.

What is the best way to eliminate obesity?

Obesity is best treated by eating a healthy, low-calorie diet and exercising frequently. To do so, follow your weight loss management health professional's (such as a dietitian's) advice and eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet, or join a local weight loss group.

Which exercises are best to lose weight for obese individuals?

While climbing stairs and running are beneficial, walking is one of the simplest and most efficient methods to begin living a healthy lifestyle. It's not only free, but it's also a low-impact workout that can be done almost anyplace, inside or out. 

Can drinking lemon water help you lose weight?

Lemon water may help you feel full, stay hydrated, improve your metabolism, and lose weight. When it comes to reducing weight, though, lemon water is no better than plain water. It is, nevertheless, delicious, simple to prepare, and may be used as a low-calorie substitute for higher-calorie drinks.


Lemon water reduce obesity

Closing Thoughts

Being overweight or obese are significant risk factors for urinary incontinence. However, undergoing weight loss by conventional methods can reduce the risk to a large extent.

Being mindful of what you eat and drink can go a long way. Exercise also plays a major role in alleviating obesity and thereby preventing incontinence leaks.

Incontinence can be difficult to manage without the right support. Norton Hurley’s collection of protection products can be of immense help to those fearing social isolation or an interruption in daily activities due to incontinence.


How Does Obesity Affect Incontinence


  1. Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 360. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020
  2. Subak LL, Richter HE, Hunskaar S. Obesity and urinary incontinence: epidemiology and clinical research update. J Urol. 2009 Dec;182(6 Suppl):S2-7. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.08.071. PMID: 19846133; PMCID: PMC2866035.
  3. Wing RR, Creasman JM, West DS, Richter HE, Myers D, Burgio KL, Franklin F, Gorin AA, Vittinghoff E, Macer J, Kusek JW, Subak LL; Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE). Improving urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women through modest weight loss. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Aug;116(2 Pt 1):284-292. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e8fb60. PMID: 20664387; PMCID: PMC3038422.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is purely for educational purposes and should not be used in place of advice from your doctor or physician.