health

Another surprising side effect of obesity (that no one talks about).

It’s a serious (and common) problem.

Australia may be known internationally for its healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle, but in reality we are facing an epidemic that undermines that image: obesity. In 2014, The Lancet reported that a whopping 63 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.

With the majority of the population struggling with weight issues, the flow-on effect to other health conditions creates a minefield of health issues that our communities have to contend with. Most of those more commonly associated links to obesity are obvious, such as infertility and heart conditions, but there is one common condition that is directly impacted by obesity that many people don’t even know about.

Related: ‘DON’T BE FAT’ and other weight loss fads from the past that made us smile.

That condition is light bladder leakage, or LBL, which impacts around one in three Australian women. So if you have this issue, you are not alone – even celebrities like Kris Jenner struggle with it.

LBL is associated with weak pelvic floor muscles and can lead to some uncomfortable and awkward moments for sufferers. It is commonly experienced by women, particularly during pregnancy and after childbirth (which is the cause of 83 per cent of LBL for women).

It's commonly experienced by women, particularly during pregnancy and after childbirth - totally worth it though.

But the thing is that LBL affects women of all ages and stages. To avoid addressing or admitting to the issue, many women experiencing LBL simply alter their lifestyle to avoid activities that trigger the condition rather than manage it effectively. They give up everything from situations where there may be spontaneous laughing, to vigorous exercise and activities that require bending, jumping or other sudden movements.

Related: We all know what it looks like (sadly), but what is cellulite?

What many people don’t realise is the link between LBL and obesity. Research clearly shows that carrying excess weight exacerbates LBL. Even a five unit increase in your BMI can contribute as much as 60 – 100 per cent increase in bladder leakage issues.

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The reason why increased weight contributes to LBL is because excess weight in the mid-section of the body puts extra pressure on your bladder. In combination with normal daily activities like laughing, sneezing or coughing, exercise or bending over, this increased pressure can lead to a lack of urinary control.

"In combination with normal daily activities like laughing, sneezing or coughing, exercise or bending over, this increased pressure can lead to a lack of urinary control."

Obesity can also significantly worsen LBL symptoms if you were already experiencing bladder leakage issues prior to the weight gain.

There is good news for sufferers of LBL who are also struggling with weight issues, and that’s knowing that a reduction in weight will also lead to a reduction in LBL. Steady weight loss, combined with positive changes including exercise, has been proven to reduce the prevalence of LBL.

Related: Why you should really try Pilates.

There are other simple steps women can take to improve their bladder control (apart from taking regular toilet breaks), such as trying a core-strengthening exercise like Pilates, and learning to switch on your pelvic floor muscles when you’re doing daily things like sitting at the traffic lights or watching TV.

"There are other simple steps women can take to improve their bladder control (apart from taking regular toilet breaks), such as trying a core-strengthening exercise like Pilates."

Thankfully there are also products designed specifically to help you to manage LBL effectively. These days, liners and pads specifically made for LBL sufferers are produced with a different technology than period liners or pads and they are much more absorbent to keep you protected. Phew.

So if you are struggling with obesity, losing weight will do wonders for your overall health and longevity.

But it could also help reduce your LBL issues – and that’s one hell of an incentive.

Do you have LBL? How have you improved your symptoms?

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