India suffers from the double burden of rising obesity and diabetes. The country has at least 65 million diabetes patients, and about 80 percent of those cases are correlated with obesity.
The rise of India’s middle class in the past two decades has ushered a penchant for unhealthy processed food and snacks as well as for fast food. The obesity rate among teenagers has been attributed to an addiction to junk food and gadgets which preclude physical activity. The number of gyms and yoga studios have increased, but there are few commercial diet programs such as NutriSystem or Weight Watchers and bariatric surgery with a price tag of approximately $5000 has become a quick fix for those who can afford it, reports the Washington Post. Pradeep Chowbey, chief bariatric surgeon at Max Healthcare hospital in New Delhi and former president of the Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society of India says that about 18,000 weight-loss surgeries were conducted in India in 2014, up from 800 just five years ago.
Experts predict that the booming $2 billion medical tourism industry in India will grow to include bariatric surgeries.