Shifting the pounds significantly reduces the risk of developing chronic health conditions even if people remain obese, researchers have said.

A study carried out by a team from pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has shown that losing just 13% of a person’s body weight can cut the risk of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis by 42%.

Going on a diet also lowered the chance of developing hip and knee arthritis and high cholesterol by one fifth.

More than half a million British people aged about 51 took part in the study, of which the findings were unveiled at the European and International Congress on Obesity.

Professor Jason Halford, president elect of the European Association for the Study of Obesity which runs the online conference, said: “We ignore obesity at our peril. Weight management is clearly one of the best ways to control diseases including diabetes.

“This study shows the importance of investing in prevention and support to help people lose weight now, rather than waiting for them to turn up in hospital with severe complications ten years down the line.”

The trial involved weighing each participant at the beginning of the study and once again, four years later. At the follow up, 60,000 people had lost at least 10% of their body weight.

Many of those people were still considered obese, but the weight loss was enough to make a huge impact on their health. The remaining 492,000 people had not lost weight.

Study author Dr Christiane Haase said: “The difference in the risk of these conditions is striking and indicates that people with obesity could markedly reduce their disease risk through intentional weight loss.”

Professor Nick Finer of Novo Nordisk said: “Health policy has been much happier to treat diabetes when it develops rather than the obesity which causes it to develop. That is completely illogical.

“Now we have evidence that if you lose weight you can prevent these diseases – which are expensive to treat – from developing. It should be a wake-up call to healthcare providers and policymakers.”

The multi-award-winning Low Carb Program is demonstrated to help patients with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity sustainably lose weight, improve blood glucose control and reduce diabetes medications. At 1 year, peer-reviewed research shows 26% of participants who completed the program were in remission. 

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