The continuing phenomenon of size inflation in fast food


Wendy's is getting rid of "Biggie" and "Great Biggie" size drinks and fries from their menu. Oh, they're still offering them, just with a different name. What used to be "Biggie" is now "medium" and what used to be "Great Biggie" is now "large". Even the "small" drink is a massive 20 ounces, or two and a half FDA servings.

Comments (67)
  1. Walter says:

    Well, at least that sounds more sensible than the sizes at Starbukcs: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001677.html

  2. Joe Dietz says:

    I swear I used to wear size medium athletic shorts (as opposed to taylored shorts which come in dimensional sizes).  Now it seems I wear size small shorts.  Trust me I’ve not gotten smaller.  I think this generally happened sometime around 2002.  Of course the problem this presents me is that no real american adult is a size small so stores stock fewer smalls…

  3. JeffCurless says:

    I propose a new system of sizes designed to shame people into not eating as much:  small, medium, I’m fat, objects orbit me.

    Far fewer people would order the larger sizes if they had to say, "Yes I’d like the ‘objects orbit me’ size".

  4. BlakeHandler says:

    I was ordering Prime Rib at the Excalibur in Las Vegas. They offer three choices:

    1) The Queen Guinevere Cut

    2) The Sir Galahad Cut

    3) The King Arthur Cut  

    Figuring that no self-respected male carnivore would order the “Queen Guinevere Cut” – I determined there were only two choices: the Sir Galahad & King Arthur Cuts.

    I’m sure you’ve figured out that “I” ordered the King Arthur Cut which is INSANELY large!

    The lesson? It’s OK to order the Queen Guinevere Cut, as well as a TALL Coffee at Starbucks (which is really a “small”)

  5. kbiel says:

    >I propose a new system of sizes designed to shame people into not eating as much:  small, medium, I’m fat, objects orbit me.

    And just why should you care?  You’ll find that your life can be far less stressful if you would stop worrying about other people’s business.

  6. Charlie Williams says:

    > It’s OK to order the Queen Guinevere Cut, as well as a TALL Coffee at Starbucks (which is really a “small”)

    Actually, there’s an off-menu size that’s smaller.  Ordering a "short" gets you an 8oz cup.

  7. Garry Trinder says:

    Reminds me of when I went to buy a new clothes dryer.  Apparently, they come in three sizes: "Large", "Extra Large" & "Super Capacity"

    I’ve also noticed that buyer is always cheaper at McDonalds.  They offer 10 Chichen McNuggets for 2.98, and 20 for 5.59.  However, they also offer 4 for 99 cents, so if you order 3 of the 4 packs, you get 2 extra for your $3.  And if you order 5 of the 4-packs, you save .40 over buying 20.

  8. tzagotta says:

    Now at Wendy’s, you can’t just order a combo any more.  If you order a #3 combo, they’ll ask you if you want that small, medium, or large.  Give me a break!  I’m tired of all the add-on sales gimmicks – I just want it simple.

  9. Brian says:

    I’m going to use my psychic powers to determine that kbiel is a fatty

  10. This may be apocryphal, but I heard of a brand of condoms that came in varying sizes. The smallest was "Large".

  11. A Tykhyy says:

    Nick: excellent psychological joke, I’m going to tell it sometimes! Thanks! :)

  12. JeffCurless says:

    I  care because I have to pay higher rates to my health care provider because people who are fat cost more money, and those of us who aren’t end up subsidizing them.

    Other than that I don’t really care too much.

  13. James says:

    Speaking of inflation–how about calling a 42 ounce container a "bucket"? What would that make a half-gallon container or (heaven forbid!) a container that contained a whole gallon?

  14. dbt says:

    A short latte is cheaper than a tall latte and has just as much espresso.

    Highly recommended.

  15. MSDN Archive says:

    I have to admire my father-in-law for being man enough to order the smaller "Cowgirl" steak at a local restaurant.

  16. Vernon says:

    >I have to pay higher rates to my health care provider because people who are fat cost more money, and those of us who aren’t end up subsidizing them.

    That’s only a valid argument so long as you don’t partake in any activity that might cost me higher rates. Smoke? Drink? Drive? Own guns? Have kids?

  17. kbiel says:

    >I’m going to use my psychic powers to determine that kbiel is a fatty

    Brian,

    Wow, I wouldn’t rely about your psychic powers if I were you.  They would have been more accurate if they had told you that I’m a libertarian who believes that it’s no one elses business if someone eats themself to death or smokes or refuses to exercise or drinks excessively or takes drugs, et cetera.  I might agree with you that those actions are stupid but that doesn’t make it my business or yours.

    But then again, I’m sure that you live a perfect life of self-discipline and self-denial and you are entitled to tell everyone else how they should live due to your superiority.

  18. [ICR] says:

    http://www.illwillpress.com/sml.html

    McDonalds recently did the opposite in the UK and removed the super duper rediculously large option from the menu (though I think it’s returned briefly for the World Cup). Besides, our sizes in McDonalds are all smaller than in the US anyway, so I hear.

    The way sizes have gotten bigger is quite scary. Though I also seem to eat less nowdays anyway.

  19. tzagotta says:

    > Wow, I wouldn’t rely about your psychic powers if I were you.

    Chill out dudes – this isn’t slashdot – no need for gettin’ personal!

  20. dave says:

    Re: Starbucks coffee sizes

    Oh, Starbucks still understands the words "small", "medium", and "large".  As part of my own petty protest against the erosion of meaning in public life, I make sure to always order one of those 3 sizes. And no-one behind the counter ever asks me what I mean.

  21. Mark says:

    BlakeHandler’s comment reminded me of steakhouses in South Africa. You could get a "small" sirloin (200g) if you asked for a "Ladies Sirloin". Of course, not red-blooded South African male would be seen dead doing that, they’d be more likely to go for a "Man Size Rump" (1kg).

  22. mschaef says:

    "If you order a #3 combo, they’ll ask you if you want that small, medium, or large.  Give me a break!  I’m tired of all the add-on sales gimmicks – I just want it simple."

    I’d rather have the choice than be forced into something I don’t want. I like my hamburger (mustard, no mayo) with a large diet drink and a salad with no dressing. There are so many overrides in that compared to the standard definition of ‘number 1’, that ordering the combo meal tends to be counterproductive.

    WRT Mr. Chen’s original post: Whataburger, a local TX chain, started doing that several years ago.  Medium went from 20->32 and large went from 32->44. In contrast, at an In-and-Out burger, I noted with some satisfaction that the default milkshake size looked to be <16-20oz.

  23. ::wendy:: says:

    The size inflation appears of epidemic proportions (extra large?) and much broader (XXL) than just food portions.  There’s a size deflation covers clothes.  For example,  in Europe (UK/Netherlands) I buy shoes European size 41,  if I bug shoes in the US they cite the European size as being 38.  My feet haven’t shrunk….  Similary I can wear XXS t-shirts in the US(if I can FIND them),  this is a novelty,  I used to be medium and I haven’t lost any weight.  

    Metric Normalisation is bizarre…   …especially when marketting influence the category labels…

  24. RussN says:

    When I was a kid, I worked at a McDonalds.  The summer I worked there, they changed the ‘small’ to be ‘kids’, ‘small’ to ‘medium’, etc.

    I always found it humourous that people would come in and order a Double Quarter Pounder Value Meal, supersized, with a Diet Coke?

    Diet Coke?  Supersized?  Does anyone see the point?

  25. JenK says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Size deflation sucks. They call it "vanity sizing" so that size 10s can pretend they’re size 8 or 6.  What it really means is that you don’t know what size you wear.

    Meanwhile, I >am< fat. Thanks to size deflation & general lack of standardization I don’t have a size – I have a size /range/. Toss in the boutique clothing company whose owner decided she wanted to be a Medium and based sizes off that, well, my closet has sizes L, XL, XXXL, 4X, 5X, 6X, and G/H. And yes, they all /fit/.  

  26. JoeOrz says:

    "Even the "small" drink is a massive 20 ounces, or two and a half FDA servings."

    What does that mean? The FDA recommends how many ounces a drink should be? I don’t know about you but 8 oz. is way too small. I think 16 should be the FDA serving.

  27. Fred Savage says:

    RussN: That ones getting pretty stale.  Some validity to it, but maybe you regularly drink Diet Coke and you like the taste of it.  So yeah, you’re getting way too many calories and fat grams with that meal, but if you drink 6-8 Diet Cokes a day, you’re at least saving all those calories.

  28. JYW says:

    "Diet Coke?  Supersized?  Does anyone see the point?"

    I drink Diet Coke because it tastes better to me than regular coke (less sweet), not because it has less calories.

  29. Adam says:

    OK, I was having trouble picturing this, so I thought I’d put together some quick help for everyone else who uses the Metric system (i.e. everyone not in the US).

    According to wikipedia, 1 fl oz is ~30ml (varies between 28.4ml and 30ml depending on which of the 3 definitions you’re using!). So, taking measurements cited so far:

    Raymond’s 20floz “small” ~ 600ml
    Rosyna’s 32floz drink with 8floz sode ~ 960ml with 240ml soda.
    James’ 42floz “bucket” ~ 1260ml (1.25l)
    and Mschaef’s Whataburger large size went to 44floz ~ 1320ml.

    (And what the hell is it with using weight as a measure of volume? Even if you’re going to stick with imperial measurements, why not use cubic inches or something?)

    [The are two different units both called “ounce”, though the volume one is also called “fluid ounce” to resolve ambiguity. We also use the same word (pound) as a force and mass unit. But then again, so do you (“kilos”). -Raymond]
  30. Rosyna says:

    Except a small drink that is 20 ounces doesn’t actually contain 20 ounces of liquid. They fill most cups with a *lot* of ice and since water expands when it is frozen, it contains much, much less soda than 20oz. In fact, sometimes I’m wondering if even a 32oz drink contains 8oz of soda.

  31. Joe says:

    Labor is expensive, food is cheap. Companies are simply trying to give value with what is cheap for them to provide

  32. J says:

    "And what the hell is it with using weight as a measure of volume?"

    The fluid ounce is a measure of volume.

  33. Deal with it says:

    Diet Coke?  Supersized?  Does anyone see the point?

    Yes. The calorie difference between "regular" and "diet" coke is huge. Enough to push the meal from "acceptable but not daily" to "lethal to be in the same room".   (Well, ok, slight exaggeration.)

    If the only lifestyle change a person makes is ordering a diet coke, then that may well be enough to tip their weight onto a downward slide, which is generally a good thing, and thus means that there is a point to it.

  34. lach says:

    When I went to the USA I was amazed at the sizes of soft drinks in fast food restaurants.  In Australia we get charged quite a lot for pretty small sizes – it’s surprising that the "super huge" size hasn’t caught on here yet. What’s also annoying is now you can only either get soft drink or water (if you are lucky). No alternatives.

  35. M Knight says:

    When ordering soft drink, it always pays to ask for ‘no ice’. At least in Australia, they top it up so you end up getting more actual soft drink rather than water/ice.

  36. Fowl says:

    ‘It’s surprising that the "super huge" size hasn’t caught on here yet.’

    They actually had an advertising campaign using that as "evidence" that McDonalds is "Healthy".

    > ‘What’s also annoying is now you can only either get soft drink or water (if you are lucky). No alternatives.’

    Rubbish, you can get orange juice, apple juice, a smoothie, “multi-V” juice, water, coffee, "shakes", or hot chocolate.

  37. GregM says:

    RussN, diabetics, or people who have a family history of diabetes, drink diet sodas because they don’t have sugar.

    Now, a diet coke with a large sundae is a totally different matter.

  38. Jon Suen says:

    Adam: Gasoline pump meters are temperature compensated, they usually have a sticker that says "Volume compensated to 60 degrees" or something like that, so you’re not being cheated.

  39. josh says:

    I usually don’t get enough ice in my drink.  I like to reuse it later because we don’t have a convenient source of ice or chilled water at the office.  The lumps of cold are more valuable to me than the soda…

  40. XrX says:

    Jon: The problem with temp. compensated pumps is the temp. they are calibrated at, if they’ve been calibrated higher than the mean temp. (which in almost all areas of Canada is the case) you end up getting less than your paying for in the long run.  ie: most of the time the pumps is dishing out less than a litre because the temp. is below the compensated setting and your still paying for a liter.

    Now if your living in a stupidly warm location (say Arizona) you may benefit in the long run.

  41. WendyHome says:

    tangentally on the size-volume theme:  Why are the ‘gallons’ a different size in the US than the UK?  When I first moved here I thought the gas was REALLY cheap because I assumed the gallons were the same size.  Then I assumed my car was really uneconomic because its miles-per-gallon were really poor compared to UK cars….   ….then eventially I discovered that Gallons are not the same in the UK/US

  42. Gabe says:

    Watching Top Gear in the US can sometimes be annoying because it’s a British show, but some segments are filmed for the US market. That means sometimes the price of a car is mentioned in pounds, sometimes in dollars, and sometimes both.

    What’s really annoying, though, is when they mention a car’s fuel economy. It’s almost always miles per gallon, but they never specify which gallon. If it were just a British show, I could assume Imperial gallons. But some segments are for the US, so they could be using US gallons at any time. That means I can never tell if their fuel economy ratings are really good, or 20% too high.

    There might be a similar problem with tonnes (1000kg) vs tons (2000lbs), but the difference is only 10% and they are usually specified to just one significant figure (or maybe "she’s hauling two-and-a-half-ton(ne)s"), so it doesn’t matter.

    If you really want to be confused, look at how many different kinds of tons there are (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton). When talking about a 1000 ton ship, do you mean displacement tons, deadweight tons, freight tons, or register tons?

  43. Ross Bemrose says:

    To be exact, fluid ounces are based on the weight of water in earth’s gravity near the ocean level.

    There are 16 oz. in 1 lb.

    1 gal. of water is 8 lbs.

    8 lbs is 128 oz.

    Therefore, there are 128 fl. oz. in 1 gallon.

    For the record, there are about 33.814 fl. oz. in 1L.  Or just over 1 quart.

  44. Ross Bemrose says:

    I should note that I’m referring to US gallons.  I wasn’t aware there was a difference until I went back and saw Wendy’s post.

  45. Adam says:

    Raymond: 2? Look it up on Wikipedia. There are 5. Avoirdupois and Troy are both weight (but different). Fluid is volume. Ounce-force is, well, force. Ounce-of-hide is distance. Yikes!

    Yeah about the mass/weight thing. I was going to be picky with Newtons, but I don’t actually use those to weigh myself. But when I do weigh myself, I’m not actually that interested in how much force I’m applying to the ground, I’m more interested in how much mass I’ve accumulated recently, so most scales do a good job of doing the conversion for me :)

    At least we use Joules instead of foot-pounds for Energy :-p

    (Has this gone too far OT yet? :)

    (The “why floz” thing wasn’t intended to be very serious. You use that system of measurement because that’s what everyone else uses, and everyone else uses it for the same reason, because everyone else does, which makes it convenient.

    But, floz is a derived (some might say _very_ derived) measure of volume. It’s the volume of a particular fluid at a particular temperature and particular pressure under certain circumstances that happens to weigh one ounce. If you’ve got a measure of length, why not just use that, cubed, instead?

    It just seems an awfully roundabout way of measuring something to me. *shrug* :)

    [Because the people who invented the unit hundreds of years ago weren’t good at physics. They used what they got, and water was pretty convenient. Even today, we sell gasoline by volume and not mass, which would be more logical. -Raymond]
  46. Adam says:

    And it would be more logical because … petro^H^H^H^H^Hgas behaves like a "normal" liquid[0] and shrinks when it gets cold, so selling it by mass means you always get the same amount for your dollar, but selling it by volume means you get more for your dollar when you buy at 3am when it’s cold than at 3pm when it’s hot? Right?

    [0] i.e. not water. Which is abundant, but abnormal. Freezing from the *top*? What kind of weird-ass liquid does that?

  47. Rosyna says:

    XrX, I live in the stupidly warm Phoenix, where it’s currently 98 degrees out at 11:36pm. Anywho, drinking soda that doesn’t have a lot of water in it here is a mistake as it tends to make you go to the bathroom a lot and ends up dehydrating you in the long run. Same for tea. However, drinking just plain water is also bad as it tends to cause "water drunkedness". So it’s best to drink something like gatorade that contains water, salt, and electrolytes.

    Then again, I also have a massive drinking problem. I’m one of those people that goes to KFC and orders the 64oz "jug". However, I don’t place an order that changes the amount of ice in it, so it amounts to about 14oz.

  48. Chris Becke says:

    On the topic of volume vs mass, I was in Greece recently (honeymoon) railing around the islands. In the resturants we visited, you could get wine by the glass, by the bottle, or by the kilo. i.e. kilogram.

    The local wines are apparently delivered by truck in the mornings… The buyers go to the truck with a container of their choice, place it on a scale and pay for the wines mass in kilograms once filled. refreshingly pragmatic.

  49. Gabe says:

    So what do they call a kilo of wine? Is it a grande or a venti? Perhaps a magnum?

    To follow up with the gallons, the gallon that the US standardized on is based on the British wine gallon, while the British standardized on the ale gallon. Of course, we’re talking about liquid measurements here. In the US, the volume of a solid is a dry gallon, derived from the British corn gallon (where corn refers to any grain, not just the maize that Americans call corn).

    BTW, an Imperial ounce is actually just about 4% smaller than a US fluid ounce because Britain has 40 ounces to the quart while the US has only 32. So that 44oz beverage will be a bit smaller in England than it will in the US.

  50. Nick Lamb says:

    Raymond:

    The Kilogram (kg) isn’t a unit of force in the SI unit system, the unit of force is the Newton (N). A Newton is the force needed to accelerate a 1kg object at 1m/s^2, and thus if your mass is 80kg your weight on the Earth’s surface is slightly less than 800N due to the value of ‘g’ being a bit less than 10m/s^2.

    Gabe:

    If you wait a while the UK will switch to EU fuel economy ratings, and those use SI units so they mean the same thing everywhere. Then only US-specific segments (there are some? I didn’t know that) will talk about miles-per-gallon.

    XrX:

    You’re paying for fuel, which is stored energy, the temperature compensation ensures that you buy the same amount of energy for the same price without regard to whether it is temporarily larger in volume due to temperature. This is similar to the changes in UK natural gas pricing which ensured that customers effectively pay per kilojoule (energy) even though meters in home measure litres (volume). If you’re still worried, consider that huge fuel companies themselves all use temperature compensated measures.

  51. Rob says:

    Regarding the comments along the lines of "what business is it of yours what other people eat":

    Have you any idea how much land is used and how much forest has been destroyed to grow crops just to feed these huge cow things so that loud, gross, overweight blokes in shorts and baseball caps driving huge gas-guzzling ‘cars’ (tanks) can stuff their faces? After a few years, the soil becomes useless, and they have to hack more down.

    Still, it’s okay because "It’s your right" to live your life the way you want.

  52. Matt says:

    The "no ice gets you more soft drink" idea is rubbish now in the major fast food chains (and McDonalds Australia are real sticklers). The drink machines are made to deliver only official serving sizes whether ice is there or not – and employees are not allowed to top cups up (possibly not even *able* to top cups up given the design of the machines)

    10 years ago the idea might have worked, but these days it makes no difference except perhaps at some pubs where staff must manually control the tap and serve sizes.

  53. Mike says:

    Gabe: They simply call it Kilo. Thus, if you order a Kilo of Retsina, you will get a Liter of Retsina

  54. kbiel says:

    >Even today, we sell gasoline by volume and not mass, which would be more logical. -Raymond

    I would agree with you, but how would you implement it?  It’s easy to measure the flow rate of a liquid through a known volume of pipe or tubing, but measuring the actual mass would be prohibitively expensive.

  55. Adam says:

    Nick: Yeah, but when we measure weight, which is a force, we never use Newtons for that. We always do the implicit conversion to Kilos, and effectively use a mass measurement in place of a force measurement.

    Agreed, for all forces other than weight (e.g. thrust) we’ll use Newtons, but I don’t think Raymond was implying them. Using a mass measurement for _those_ forces *would* be dumb.

  56. Jonathan says:

    In movie theatres here in Israel, there are always 3 sizes of coke glasses, all of which are only marked for price. So you just say "Let me get a 12-shekel coke". Same for popcorn. We are not good at inventing artificial names – the retail people are never trained well enough to remember and insist on using them, let alone the customers. I don’t get why Americans have to come up with confusing names for simple measurements, instead of numbers – USB full-speed vs. hi-speed, SCSI fast-wide-ultra-160-turbo, …

    -Jonathan

  57. rolfhub says:

    @Jonathan

    >I don’t get why Americans have to come up with confusing names for simple measurements, instead of numbers…

    I completely agree, especially the cryptic names for monitor resolutions. What the heck is "QXGA resolution"? Why not simply say "2048 x 1536 pixels"?

  58. BryanK says:

    Adam — it’d only be dumb because the acceleration due to each force would be different.

    If the acceleration is fixed (e.g.: g, at 9.8m/s/s), then you can use either mass or force values, it doesn’t matter.  But most of the time (other than when measuring weight/mass), the acceleration is not fixed.  Actually, it may be that most of the time, the *force* is fixed, but I don’t know that for sure.

  59. aleko says:

    When I moved to the US from Canada, one of my first impressions was how much larger the food servings were in the restaurants. Americans eat a lot! :)

  60. Santa Claus says:

    Another reason to prefer diet drinks, even if you want to get fatter:  The corn syrup typically used in regular soft drinks is pure poison for your teeth.  Doesn’t offer much benefit otherwise, either.

    The portion sizes and names are a product of American culture… we’re always looking for a good "deal".  Since the product you buy at these kinds of places contributes little to the cost, it’s fairly obvious marketing to entice you with ever-larger servings.  But, yes, we do eat a lot :-)

    I haven’t seen any comments about the most disgusting abuse of the concept: movie theater popcorn and drinks.  Around here, at Showcase Cinemas, a small popcorn bag (2 oz?) is $3.50, a medium (4 oz?) is $4.50, and a large (8 oz?) is $5.50.  So what would you buy?  None of the above would be smart, of course, but it’s crack to me.  Drinks are a very similar pattern.  So you get a ginormous popcorn and bucket of cola for $10, or you can get a juice cup and a couple of handfuls of popcorn for $8.  Stupid.

  61. Mike says:

    As the first thought entering my mind upon reading this was "Ah, Raymond is giving a not so subtle hint Windows is like fast food" (and perhaps to some extent "Everything is large over here"), I actually was surprised to see this connection not having been made yet.

    Vista? Could be the incarnation of the numerous movies "Supersize Me" (word play on "Windows Me", though a few years late?) :-)

  62. WendyHome says:

    Given the time between releases it’s difficult for me to see the relationship between Windows and ‘fast’ food.  Maybe its a performance thing?  Will programs be more responsive,  or will I have to wait ‘in-line’ for them all to ‘start-up’ before I actually get my turn to click on something?  ;-)

  63. Bork Blatt says:

    Interesting comment – It’s OK to do whatever if it doesn’t affect anyone else.

    How many of the things we do really affect nobody else?

    What if I am the breadwinner for my family and I decide it’s OK if I die 20 years earlier than I could if I make the effort to remain healthy? First I affect my immediate family who now has to figure out how to live without my income.

    If they can’t do it, and other close relatives can’t either, then typically the government subsidises them. Where does government get those funds from? Taxpayers, ie lots of people affected.

    So a bunch of people thinking only of their own pleasure, saying "It doesn’t affect anyone else" – are actually deluding themselves.

    Some food for thought – the one thing that cannot overeat!

  64. Jules says:

    Adam: “but when we measure weight, which is a force, we never use Newtons for that. We always do the implicit conversion to Kilos, and effectively use a mass measurement in place of a force measurement.”

    That’s because hardly anybody ever measures weight in order to know how much force something is experiencing due to gravity.  We measure weight in order to determine how much mass an object must have in order to experience that amount of force; the mass is the more important value.  This is further confused by the fact that ‘weight’ is also used as a (non-technical) synonym for ‘mass’ so people are prone to say that they weigh (e.g.) 80Kg, when they mean that they mass 80Kg (as determined by measuring their weight as slightly under 800N).

    Gabe: “To follow up with the gallons, the gallon that the US standardized on is based on the British wine gallon”

    Interesting.  And rather ironic, given that the standard volume in which wine is sold at a wholesale level is the case of 6 x 75cl bottles, which is 4.5 litres, a size pretty close to an Imperial gallon.  I always assumed it had been chosen to coincide, but if wine was previously measured in smaller gallons, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    kbiel: “You’ll find that your life can be far less stressful if you would stop worrying about other people’s business.”

    Unfortunately, the problems of increasing obesity are everyone’s problem, not just those who are obese: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/109/5/e81 Obesity-associated annual hospital costs (based on 2001 constant US dollar value) increased more than threefold; from $35 million (0.43% of total hospital costs) during 1979–1981 to $127 million (1.70% of total hospital costs) during 1997–1999.

    Whether (like me) you’re in a country with free social medical care, or in the US where government-provided medical assistance is more limited and it is mostly left up to private health insurance companies to deal with this problem, you are paying for it, either in increased taxes or in increased premiums, or perhaps both.  It is your problem.

  65. Cody says:

    Gasoline shouldn’t be vastly affected by ambient temperature because it is stored underground, where the temperature remains rather constant.

    Also, water needs to freeze from the top and thus not sink, otherwise all the fishy in the pond would die.

  66. Stephen Jones says:

    Actually, the litre is simply a fluid kilo. That is to say it is the space a kilo of fresh water takes up at sea level at a temperature of 25 C.

  67. Adam says:

    Stephen: You have it backwards. The litre is defined as a volume of exactly 0.001 cubic meters; it’s the kilo that was originally the derived measure.

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