COMMENT People are too fat. "This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now engulfing the entire world," said Paul Zimmet, chairman of a meeting of more than 2,500 experts and health officials, opening the weeklong International Congress on Obesity. "It's as big a threat as global warming and bird flu." This latest new big thing already has a Hollywood style amalgam: Globesity. By contrast, no cute words for either global warming or bird flu. Some people argue whether climate change is more accurate. No one talks about warmbaling or climage, gloaming or ... birflu? blu? Back to the global population. Nearly one in six are fat. Nevermind saving the planet from global warming or an outbreak of bird flu. Many of us are too fat to see our toes. But is obesity really as big a threat as global warming or even bird flu? Zimmet's comments have already been picked up by critics as an example of America's navel gazing, typical of a country that, for example, reports US deaths in Iraq but not how many Iraqis are killed. It's not certain if first world obesity could match global crisis like climate change or bird flu. Bird flu might claim as many as 100 million lives in a global population of six billion, at least according to estimates from WHO. Global warming still has its uncertainties, and seems a more distant threat. However, the last six months have seen reports stating some events are occurring as much as a century ahead of predictions. If this rate of increase continues, global warming may start year round storm damage of sea-level cities within our life time. Hurricanes are also increasing in severity. Lives may not be lost from rising sea levels or cyclone damage. It may be that global warming disruptes world weather patterns so badly that global trade is disrupted for months if not years - leading to a collapse of the world economy that currently "wins" and "loses" billions of dollars every minute. As a result, hundreds of millions if not billions of human lives are 'downsized' from a combination of HIV and other untreated diseases, if they survive dehydration and starvation as human populations start dropping back towards pre-industrial levels. Or so disaster theories go. In terms of impact, however, globesity is the new kid on the block. If Zimmet continues trying to paper-scissors-rock different kinds of global disaster, he will find globesity loses everytime. Pacific Islanders will find good humour in the ironies. There may be poetic justice in a disease that kills off the same people doing most of the polluting. Good job, it will be said by Pacific Islanders. Including fat Pacific Islanders, themselves leading obesity statistics across the region. As Americans and Europeans remain obsessed with their own round bellies, there is fat chance they will pay much attention to global problems. If half the predictions about global warming prove correct, however, few people will be worrying about obesity.