Havana: The word "fat" is fast becoming a social stigma and has a deep psychological toll on the individual, a Cuban health expert has said.
Obesity is very closely associated with depression, Alberto Quirantes Hernandez, chief of Endocrinology Services at the Dr. Salvador Allende Teaching Hospital in Havana, said.
An overweight person becomes frustrated and is unable to fully develop his personality, desires and interpersonal relationships.
"Some diseases are very visible, but obesity is the only one that provokes disparaging remarks and condemnation," he said.
Obese people may feel defenceless against verbal or other aggression, and their inner response may be one of guilt and shame, both in public life and in their most private relationships.
Hernandez said a time comes when an obese person may feel as if he or she is in a blind alley, frustrated and blocked by the inability to fully develop his or her personality, desires and interpersonal relationships.
"If the obese person does not find an effective, progressive and permanent solution to this issue, the problem becomes more chronic, a psychological toll takes place, and from there to depression it is a short leap."
Depression, accompanied by lack of physical activity, leads to more obesity, and can cause physiological problems in the endocrine and immune systems, he said.
"Obesity-related depression affects women more - in a two-to-one ratio compared to men," Hernandez said.
The only effective, permanent and scientific solution to obesity requires changing our diets and increasing physical activity, he said.