In August last year, after several interventions by friends and family, Sumit Narula finally enrolled himself in an online weight management programme. The 37-year-old Punjab-based teacher was 90kg when he got into the programme and has since then lost 12kg. “I realised I am overweight when people around me started noticing it. Whenever my friends and relatives met me after a brief period, their favourite line was, ‘How have you gained so much? You must do something to lose weight. This isn’t healthy.’ And I decided to do something about it when my wife also started complaining,” says Narula.
The self-proclaimed food lover credits his remarkable transformation to an online weight management programme by the young entrepreneur Dev Khosla. Started last year, Khosla’s company www.theweightmonitor.com delivers personalised weight management advisory services with daily monitoring tools to help people lose weight. Khosla says, “Desktop weight management will soon become a trend in India.”
CEO and founder of The Weight Monitor Khosla says, “Corporate experts predict that the working professionals of India would soon have a lot of money but no time to devote to personal health. Access and delivery of healthcare information in India is still fragmented and has not created a significant impact on arresting this epidemic of ill health. Technology-driven service delivery platforms can certainly contribute in a big way to correct this trend.” The company has many satisfied clients. “Delhi-based Pooja Saigal lost 15kg in six months while Ankeet Teli from Gurgaon lost 8.5kg in just three months,” he says.
According to a recent study by the market research firm Euromonitor International’s global network analysis of 80 countries, obesity rate in India is expected to double by 2020. The report also suggested that with rapid rise in obesity, interest in online weight management system will likely remain high for the foreseeable future. Coincidently, the Fitho Wellness also found similar details. In its recent study, it found that 73 per cent adults in urban India are overweight, and 46 per cent are obese. Studies also indicate that India’s weight loss market is worth roughly `9,500 crore per annum and this is expected to touch `17,000 crore by 2015.
Khosla adds that even though almost 70 per cent of the customers belong to metropolitan cities such as Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad, many new subscriptions are coming from remote areas such Mandi Gobindgarh in Punjab.
Prachi Agarwal, founder, Fitho Wellness says, “As more Indians are logging on to the Internet, the online fitness market is growing in India.” Founded in 2010, Fitho Wellness and Weight Monitor are a few of the many players in the web healthcare market; others include Indiadiets, Oomph-nutrition and Medico. Khosla says, “The Internet today is full of contracting information. Today red wine is good for your heart, tomorrow it’s not. Structured delivery of customised scientific advice is the need of the hour. This is creating business opportunities in preventive healthcare in India. Needless to say nothing motivates a person more than results.”
Most of these online weight management programmes work in a similar fashion. All one needs is sign up and select a weight loss programme and inform the company about it. These companies instantly create a customised daily diet and exercise routine according to the user’s needs and preferences. “A team of certified dietician and fitness experts then work closely with members to understand their diet, answer their queries and motivate them to achieve the results,” says Prachi.
Apart from being a click away, these online weight management programmes also score on cost. Services of an online weight management company can be availed for as low as `499 per month. Clearly, with rising demand for such services, the web healthcare market is set to take front seat and the beneficiaries are more than happy.