Friday, January 11, 2008

Pop quiz, hotshot!

I always thought I was good at taking tests, but I got 1 out of 9 on this awesome quiz about "portion sizes". Admiral Seamus is no slouch at tests either, but he also got a big old "F" on this one (4 out of 9). Yeah, I get that they are trying to shock us with HOW HUGE THE PORTIONS ARE THESE DAYS and how we are ALL TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS ABOUT HOW MUCH WE EAT which is why we're ALL TURNING INTO HUGE FATTIES OMG PANIC!!!! But you can't ace this thing if you just pick the highest number on every question. (Nor, it seems, if you actually try to use reason to pick the best answer.) Here are some of my personal favorites:

-Diameter and calorie count of the "average bagel"... I don't know, did they really count all the bagels in the world and average them out? Wouldn't that tend to skew towards the diameter and calorie count of the most popular brands? Or is it the average of all the *types* of bagels out there? Are they counting mini bagels?

-Average calories in a "turkey sandwich". Umm.

-A story problem for you: "Today's coffee portions are about double the 8 ounces from 20 years ago. The old cup held about 45 calories. How many calories are in today's?"

Seamus' answer: "Still zero?"

But that wasn't an option. I foolishly tried to work with these guys and actually figure out what they were going for. So, OK, "double the 8 ounces", so that's 16 ounces, no wait, that's a decoy, I just have to multiply the calories by 2... okay, 45 calories, times 2, gotta get out my calculator for this one, okay, ummmmm... 90 calories???

No, I'm so wrong!!! Because I forgot to take into account "all the extra flavors and creams added to coffee today"!!!! No wonder I'm so fat!!!!!

So we both did pretty poorly. Let me know how you do! (Of course, I've already helped you out on the coffee question.)


Stephen-In-England said...

I got the coffee one wrong too. I'm vegan, I always have my coffee black! The questions were not specific enough.

Anonymous said...

This quiz is almost impossible. There is not enough information on what they are asking, they give you no idea what size they are asking about or who is making it. I guarantee you that if I make a turkey sandwhich it's a lot less calories that if I get one at a diner.

Mary said...

Exactly. A turkey sandwich can be low-calorie and virtually fat-free if you use "lite" bread, "lite" cheese, "lite" turkey, lettuce, and fat-free mayo (of course I'm not advocating this -- but there was a time back when I was dieting and not a vegetarian, when I actually ate such abominations). But even if you use regular ingredients, it's bound to be lighter than what you'd get in a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

This quiz is absolutely idiotic. They are comparing a 1.5 ounce muffin "of 20 years ago" to a 4 ounce muffin of today.

Yeah, the calories will be higher. Duh.

Anonymous said...
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Weighing in on the matter said...

portions have increased dramatically. Obesity has increased dramatically....I'll let you make any connections you would like. I traveled and studied abroad and I was blown away by the smaller portions that they had...and I was able to put that into connection with the healthier they were as a whole, the smaller amount of people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases. It was by far better than any research I could have done on my own to just look and see the difference is amazing. I believe this quiz was a chance to see the difference in portions...although it was a difficult quiz it gives you the basic idea of why it is we must have such bigger can thank corporate america for that.

Mary said...

I don't doubt for one minute that portion sizes have increased (Stephen Jay Gould had an awesome essay on Hershey bar size that really showed this in one particular domain with some great statistics). But this quiz is, IMO, a very lame attempt to make the point. By posing extremely vague questions and making unstated assumptions (e.g., that everybody today adds a ton of cream and sugar to their coffee but they didn't do that 30 years ago), they basically set you up to fail.

And while I share your negative attitude towards corporate America, WIOTM, I also think one must be careful not to blame them for people being fat, because that leads to thinking of fat people as helpless victims which I don't think is quite the right way of looking at it. People do have some choice in the quantity that they eat, so if a particular fat person happens to eat more than a thin person (which is not always the case, but maybe it is on average -- I don't actually know) then in a sense that's a choice.

But I also feel I have to follow that up with another point, which is that even supposing that fat people eat more on average (again, I'm not necessarily saying this is true) and supposing it is at least partly a personal choice, I don't think this makes fat people evil or means they are consuming more than their fair share of resources. Because if you think of it from the point of view of sheer resources, eating even 50% more than somebody else doesn't consume as much extra energy as, say, being a meat eater rather than vegetarian. Or driving an SUV rather than a hybrid (or no car at all). Or having kids. These are all choices people make, but somehow "eating too much" has been demonized far more than those other choices I mentioned.