An average loss of 13% of total body weight reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 40% in obese individuals, researchers told the European and International Congress on Obesity earlier this month.

Their study of more than 550,000 European adults found that the same amount of weight lost also cut the risk of sleep apnea by about one-quarter and hypertension by at least 18%.

Nick Finer, M.D., senior principal clinical scientist at Novo Nordisk, which sponsored the research, called the findings “extraordinary.”

“This is powerful evidence to say it is worthwhile to help people lose weight and that it is hugely beneficial,” Finer told Medscape Medical News. “These data show that if we treat obesity first, rather than the complications, we actually get big results in terms of health. This really should be a game-changer for those healthcare systems that are still prevaricating about treating obesity seriously.”

Study participants from the United Kingdom were tracked for a mean of 8 years to see what weight-related complications they developed. The study didn’t offer any weight-loss interventions, but rather relied on participants who lost up to 25% of their body weight of their own accord.