The Checkup: That Super-Size Coke Is Bigger Than You Think

Most of us underestimate how much liquid is in large containers, a new study found.

• Not to get all Mayor Bloomberg on you, but you really might not know what’s best for you when it comes to sugary drinks. It’s not because you don’t know they’re bad for you—I think that lesson’s been beaten within an inch of its life. It’s because we mere mortals have a hard time judging volume and size, especially in large or super-size cups, a new study found. A researcher asked nearly 300 people to estimate how much liquid was in a variety of cups, which held between 12 ounces to 50 ounces. Get this: the study subjects consistently guessed wrong, underestimating by 20 to 40 percent with the large cups. Reports the New York Times: “The reason comes down to the fact that the human brain has a surprisingly tough time with geometry and often can’t accurately gauge when an object has doubled or even tripled in size. It’s even trickier when the object is a wide-mouth cup, larger on the top than the bottom.” Another study, which the Times also talks about, used dieticians to estimate calories in three fast-food meals, where portion sizes doubled and doubled again with each meal. The dieticians’ brains were fooled, too; they underestimated calories by 13 to 26 percent. Meaning? We can’t be trusted. Not that having the government choose for us is necessarily any better (you can quibble about that in the comments), but still. Some, um, food for thought.

• Speaking of mind games we play with ourselves, a recent study found that young people who use indoor tanning beds do it, too. They know it’s bad for them, researchers found, but they rationalize away the risk. The most popular mantra? “Everything causes cancer these days.”

• If you’re excited to watch the Olympics to see your favorite female athletes in action, think again: A University of Delaware professor counted the air time that men and female athletes got at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Men, he found, received 62 percent of primetime coverage, while women got just 38 percent. And of the 20 most talked-about athletes, 75 percent were men. Oh, and it gets worse—way worse. Read the full recap over here at Prevention.