What is the Link Between Obesity and Incontinence?

What is the Link Between Obesity and Incontinence?

  • On August 31, 2018
  • causes of incontinence

The number of obese people worldwide has rapidly risen in recent years, with the obesity rate doubling since 1980.

With quick and easy food on the increase, it is estimated that by 2030, 26 million UK adults will be considered overweight. Surprisingly, obesity is an established risk factor for urinary incontinence. In fact, having a high BMI is one of the most commonly seen causes of incontinence. It is even estimated that each 5 unit increase in body mass index is associated with an incontinence prevalence risk of up to 50%. This rapid growth in obesity has highlighted the requirement for incontinence products in all sizes.


Obesity and Diabetes are closely linked. Read how Diabetes can cause incontinence.


What Explains this Link?

There is evidence to suggest that individuals who have been overweight or obese since early in adult life more than double their risk of severe incontinence. Specialists have varying explanations as to why incontinence is more prevalent in individuals with a higher BMI. One explanation for the link between obesity and incontinence is that increased weight causes additional stress to be placed on a person’s pelvic floor muscles. Overtime, this can stretch and weaken both the nerves and the pelvic floor area. It is useful to compare obesity to the later stages of pregnancy in that it may lead to chronic strain, stretching and weakening of the nerves and muscles of the pelvic area. This causes them to become weakened more quickly than in a person with a lower BMI. Deposition of fat around the abdomen is another large factor associating obesity and urinary incontinence.


Deposition of fat around the abdomen is a huge contributing factor associating obesity and incontinence. Many recent studies suggest that excess body weight increases abdominal pressure. This, in turn, increases bladder pressure and mobility of the urethra. Noblett et al has found strong correlations between BMI and intra-abdominal pressure and intravesical pressure that suggested obesity may cause a chronic state of increased pressure. Non surprisingly, the association or connection between obesity and incontinence is much stronger for stress incontinence and weaker for the development of urge incontinence. Having a high BMI may also cause mechanical stress on the urogenital tissues, which overtime can affect bladder function completely.


The correlation between BMI and incontinence has been a popular topic in recent studies by scientists. In 2014, a study was conducted to evaluate the relationship between body mass index and incontinence in adults from the UK, United States and Sweden. Results were consistent in showing BMI is strongly associated with a greater risk of urinary incontinence. Among the incontinent women, being obese increased the risk of having stress incontinence. Results showed that women with a BMI 29.9 and over were more likely to have urinary incontinence, stress incontinence in particular. Men with a BMI of 31 were found to be twice as likely to develop urge incontinence than men with a low BMI. A similar study by Leslee L. Subak, MD set out to evaluate the impact of weight loss on incontinent obese women. 338 women were randomly assigned, who all had at least 10 urinary-incontinence episodes per week. The women were divided into an intervention group and control group. The intervention group had a mean weight loss of 8%, compared with 1.6% in the control group. After 6 months, the women in the intervention group had a 47% decrease in their weekly number of incontinence episodes. Those in the control group, on the other hand, only had a 28% decrease in leakages.


Bariatric Incontinence Products

Bariatric incontinence products are available in the market to effectively prevent leakage on large waist sizes. They have been created to ensure a comfortable fit for individuals with large waist sizes.


Here are some popular products that are designed for bariatric care: 


Abri Form XL2


Abri Form XL2 is an all-in-one product featuring fully breathable side panels and adhesive tabs. These features help to secure the product in place.


  • Convenient wetness indicator
  • All-in-one product
  • Fully breathable side panels
  • Ideal for moderate to heavy urinary incontinence



Abena Abri-Flex XXL Incontinence Pants



Abena Abri-Flex XXL bariatric sized pull up incontinence pants  include a built in pad and are designed just like normal underwear. These pants can be pulled up and down easily when required with the additional protection of a built in incontinence pad, maximising dignity and minimising hassle. These pants provide maximum comfort, with their waist band designed much wider than normal pants.


  • Advanced Zoning System
  • Optimum skin comfort
  • Wide, soft elasticated side panels
  • Odour control system to prevent unwanted odours



Tena Slip Stretch XXL         




The Tena Slip Stretch XXL is the Tena’s largest all in one body incontinence pad. This product is particularly suitable for users who are less mobile or bed based. Tena Slip Stretch features a soft textile back sheet and easy to use re-fastenable fixation hooks.


  • Stretch sides that follow the body’s movements
  • Curved leg elastics for improved comfort and close body fit
  • Soft textile backing ensures enhanced comfort and dryness for improved skincare
  • Easy to apply re-closable fixation hook and eye fastenings
  • Odour Neutralizing Technology
  • Wetness Indicator


Prevail All In One Pads


Prevail All In One Incontinence Pads, also known as Slips, are specially designed for maximum comfort and fit to prevent leakage on larger waist sizes. The XXL Prevail All In One Pads are ideal for bariatric patients. The all in one is designed to fit completely around the body before fastening securely with bottom tapes then top tapes. This pad features additional security barriers for increased comfort and leakage protection.


  • Dual easy lock resealable fixation tapes for excellent closure
  • Effective odour control system
  • Cloth feel breathable backing             
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Advanced Zoning System for fast absorption
  • Wide and soft elastic sides


Bariatric products are suitable for all different types of incontinence. You can choose between a range of sizes to find the right fit for you. Shop our full range of bariatric products to find a product suitable for you. To measure your waist, use a tape to circle your waist at your natural waistline, located above your belly button and below your rib cage.


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