Shape up: Malaysia should eye India’s obesity surgery trend

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obesity-malaysia2Despite the fact that one in six Indians are classified as undernourished, bariatric surgery – also known as stomach shrinking – has begun to boom. This estimated billion-dollar industry should be seriously considered by ASEAN’s fattest country – Malaysia.

The pairing couldn’t be more perfect, either. Malaysia boasts a fit healthcare system that already has risen in prominence for its medical tourism reputation. In 2012, Malaysia welcomed 671,000 healthcare travelers, up from 392,000 in 2010, and now shows enough steam to rival Thailand, the healthcare tourism hub of the world.

Indians, like Malaysians, display an increasing incidence of obesity. Such has been the rise than Indians have taken to grappling with their girth with medical surgeries, fueling the country’s healthcare industry.

“India has emerged as a favourable destination chosen for weight loss surgery. The fashionable trend seems to have captured the imagination of urban India where middle-class citizens are increasingly opting for this procedure,” Murali Krishnan, a correspondent for Radio Australia reported.

In Malaysia, where traditional salty and oily diets square off with modern sedentary lifestyles (sound familiar, India?), 15.1 per cent of people aged 18 and above are said to suffer from obesity, according to statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Surveys.

There is no reason why Malaysia couldn’t fight against this epidemic with advanced surgeries; a trend that can honestly only otherwise be eroded by a dramatic change in diet or lifestyle – neither seems likely to happen in the course of this generation.

Malaysia’s healthcare sector has existing medical infrastructure including hospitals, human resources in the healthcare field, and technological developments. It is reasonably priced and has talented, multilingual doctors and nurses to entice patients from elsewhere around the globe – namely one of the world’s most obese markets, the GCC.

While Thailand was the first to attract the GCC market, Malaysia’s diversity and availability of valued creature comforts, such as halal food, gives the country an upper hand.

The only dramatic difference stymieing the take over of Malaysia as a weigh-loss surgery capital is its own demographic composition of obesity. Like the US, obesity exists mostly in the poorer proportion of the population, while in India it is the wealthy elite who are bulging up. That they have the fat wallets to pay for such procedures makes a world of a difference.

Yet the surfacing of the trend is untenable – and perhaps unavoidable. As many as 10,000 Indians will fall under the knife for bariatric surgery in 2013, according to Krishnan.

Such a trend could find itself in Malaysia soon. That’s the fat truth.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Despite the fact that one in six Indians are classified as undernourished, bariatric surgery – also known as stomach shrinking – has begun to boom. This estimated billion-dollar industry should be seriously considered by ASEAN’s fattest country – Malaysia.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

obesity-malaysia2Despite the fact that one in six Indians are classified as undernourished, bariatric surgery – also known as stomach shrinking – has begun to boom. This estimated billion-dollar industry should be seriously considered by ASEAN’s fattest country – Malaysia.

The pairing couldn’t be more perfect, either. Malaysia boasts a fit healthcare system that already has risen in prominence for its medical tourism reputation. In 2012, Malaysia welcomed 671,000 healthcare travelers, up from 392,000 in 2010, and now shows enough steam to rival Thailand, the healthcare tourism hub of the world.

Indians, like Malaysians, display an increasing incidence of obesity. Such has been the rise than Indians have taken to grappling with their girth with medical surgeries, fueling the country’s healthcare industry.

“India has emerged as a favourable destination chosen for weight loss surgery. The fashionable trend seems to have captured the imagination of urban India where middle-class citizens are increasingly opting for this procedure,” Murali Krishnan, a correspondent for Radio Australia reported.

In Malaysia, where traditional salty and oily diets square off with modern sedentary lifestyles (sound familiar, India?), 15.1 per cent of people aged 18 and above are said to suffer from obesity, according to statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Surveys.

There is no reason why Malaysia couldn’t fight against this epidemic with advanced surgeries; a trend that can honestly only otherwise be eroded by a dramatic change in diet or lifestyle – neither seems likely to happen in the course of this generation.

Malaysia’s healthcare sector has existing medical infrastructure including hospitals, human resources in the healthcare field, and technological developments. It is reasonably priced and has talented, multilingual doctors and nurses to entice patients from elsewhere around the globe – namely one of the world’s most obese markets, the GCC.

While Thailand was the first to attract the GCC market, Malaysia’s diversity and availability of valued creature comforts, such as halal food, gives the country an upper hand.

The only dramatic difference stymieing the take over of Malaysia as a weigh-loss surgery capital is its own demographic composition of obesity. Like the US, obesity exists mostly in the poorer proportion of the population, while in India it is the wealthy elite who are bulging up. That they have the fat wallets to pay for such procedures makes a world of a difference.

Yet the surfacing of the trend is untenable – and perhaps unavoidable. As many as 10,000 Indians will fall under the knife for bariatric surgery in 2013, according to Krishnan.

Such a trend could find itself in Malaysia soon. That’s the fat truth.

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