In India, where one-in-six people are undernourished, an unlikely business is booming: obesity surgery.
As economic growth averaging more than 7 percent a year helped shrink the number of chronically hungry, the population of overweight and obese Indians has climbed. In cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, adult women are more likely to be too fat than too thin, studies show. The result is an epidemic of life-shortening diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which is estimated to afflict 63 million Indians.
To counter the trend, about 400 surgeons operating in 250 hospitals are offering stomach-shrinking procedures. That’s made India one of the fastest-growing centers in the $1.2 billion global market for bariatric devices. Covidien Plc, which competes with Johnson & Johnson in supplying titanium stomach staples, predicts obesity operations in India will double to 10,000 this year, with as many as 2 million Indians as suitable candidates.