It is ironical that the daughter of a divisional manager of an insurance company, and an employee of another insurance company herself, wants Indian insurance companies to adopt obesity as a disease, like they do in the US.
She recently underwent a bariatric surgery at JJ hospital and hopes that middle-class families like hers can avail of insurance for the surgery. Her mother and brother, who too are obese, will undergo the surgery once she gets better.
Nita Kadam, 31, (name changed), a Dadar resident, underwent the surgery on September 24. She weighed 187.5 kg when she approached the doctors at JJ hospital.
Nita said, “In India, we still consider obesity surgery as a cosmetic surgery but we don’t see the fact that obesity is leading to diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and how the surgery helps the person. I did not get the surgery to look good but to live a better life.”
Nita started gaining weight after being treated for typhoid. “The steroids and antibiotics led to me gaining weight drastically. From 95 kg, I soon weighed over 160kg. I had problems travelling and complaints of breathing,” she said.
Once fit for the surgery, doctors decided to perform the mini gastric bypass surgery, a less invasive and reversible procedure that is becoming a popular choice for people who can’t lose weight.
While taking her up for the surgery, she weighed 175 kg. She now weighs 159 kg. She will be on a clear liquid diet for 10 more days and gradually lose weight, said doctors.
Professor of general surgery at JJ hospital, Dr Ajay Bhandarwar, said, “At JJ hospital, we have conducted this surgery on 18-20 patients so far... they have lost 30-40% weight in a year.”
The family spent Rs2.5 lakh on Nita’s surgery. “For a family like ours, government and civic hospitals doing bariatric surgery is a boon as it is not covered under insurance,” said Nita.
According to the International Federation for Surgery of Obesity & Metabolic Disorder, around 14,000 people undergo weight loss surgery in India every year. Obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, are some of the leading causes of preventable death.
Bariatric surgeon at Saifee Hospital Dr Muffazal Lakdawala said, “Our country is will very soon become the world capital of obesity. If obesity is recognised as a disease, pressure can be mounted on insurance companies to reimburse patients for the surgery.”
Agreeing with Lakdawala, Dr Raman Goel, consulting bariatric surgeon at Bombay Hospital, said, “Diabetes is successfully controlled by bariatric surgery but the cost is a deterrent for many.
Once insurance companies agree to cover it, many patients can benefit.”
According to the International Federation for Surgery of Obesity & Metabolic Disorder, around 14,000 people undergo weight loss surgery in India every year. Obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, are some of the leading causes of preventable death. Insurance companies in the US have adopted obesity as a disease.