The Starbucks Observation

While reading through the many Facebook pages and blogs I frequent, and the few podcasts I listen to every day, an idea popped in my head when someone started discussing Starbucks and the Dome drinks (those that have to have a dome lid to add more sugar to the already massive amounts included in the drink) and Non-Domed drinks (basically coffee). The basic hypothesis was that the purveyors of the domed versions were more likely to be overweight than those that chose the no dome versions.
Interesting …
So, since I am a frequent Starbucks customer (my choice is usually a venti iced coffee with cream and two Splenda’s) I decided that when I went in I would start observing for a half an hour (secretly of course) the people who purchased each type and tally whether they appeared to be overweight or not. A few items going in:
1.       This is obviously a judgment call when it comes to overweight (OW) and In Shape (IN). There are, of course, people that are thin but not in shape. I normally focused on the belly region. If the belly is overlapping the belt, you’re over weight.
2.       If the customer appeared to be under 20 years old I did not include them.
3.       Although Domed drink are always laden with sugar of some type (yes even the sugar free is still sweetened), some No Dome drinks are also sugar laden. I acknowledge this going in.
4.       I stopped in three different stores in my area Lithia Pinecrest (LP), Bloomingdale (BL), and New Tampa (NT) and separated them into time frames of 8-12 and 12-4. I also logged whether they were Male or Female, but only for a total process at the end.
Note: This is in NO way a scientific study. It is strictly observational. There are obviously many factors that could be taken into account (activity level, income, etc.) that could not be done this way. Stores in your area may be totally different. I acknowledge that going in.
1.       There were 124 observations made through the course of the week. 81 of the purchases were Domed, with 43 being No Dome.
2.       Of the 81 Domed drinks sold, 75 (92.6% were to females). Of the 75 females purchasing domed drinks, 71 (96%) were classified OW.
3.       Of the 81 Dome drinks purchased, 95.1% were to OW customers. Of the 43 No Dome drinks purchased, 27.9% were OW customers.
Please see below for Charts and Graphs:
So … what does this show?
Nothing really. I think we all know this would be the result, but I was curious to see if a common belief would hold up in an actual observational method. We all see this happening constantly. In the grocery store the people who appear to be in shape have carts full of veggies, and almond milk, and meat, while the overweight couple in front of you have a cart full of Fruit Loops, Coke, and pre-packaged White Castle burgers while three screaming kids are in tow, all the while talking on a cell phone to their friends complaining that they can’t get these out of control kids to settle down.
It’s a mystery …
Getting back to Starbucks, while doing some background reading I saw a couple of interesting facts:
The average human stomach holds 900mL of fluid. A Trenta drink at Starbucks is 916mL. You are basically putting more into your stomach that it can hold.
A Chocolate Chip Scone at Starbucks has more calories and Fat than a McDonald’s Big Mac.
An educated public is a dangerous thing. There was a recent study online that also compared Subway to McDonald’s and showed that Subway is just as unhealthy as the Evil McD Empire, yet Jarred is a hero. Since really delving into this area the information I have found is scary, because I used to buy into these things too.
Splenda is better than Sugar? A recent study has linked Splenda to diabetes.
Subway healthier than McDonald’s? Nope.
High Carb/Low Fat is better for training? Not even remotely close.
Vinnie and Anna were talking about “belief systems” on their recent podcast, and Lord do I see this in abundance. People cling to these beliefs as if their life depended on it too. My mother was visiting recently  (which is always fun because I refuse to buy crap that she is used to eating) and she asked me on the first night why I put whipping cream in my coffee. I told her that it was better than half and half, less carbs, keeps me full, etc. and she stated “Oh I can’t eat that … I am already fat enough”.
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I tried to explain to her that fat doesn’t make you fat, and that eating low fat items actually has more sugar. Even my 19 year old son, who usually is very contrary to anything I say because, well, he’s my son, says “Grandma, you need to listen to Dad. He knows what he’s talking about.”
After I pulled myself off the floor I tried to explain to her how fat is processed and how sugar is processed. Like talking to a wall. My mother is almost 69 years old, is now blind from diabetes, and has feet that look like, to quote Pink Floyd, “two balloons”. I stopped trying to convince her. Little does she know, though, that she drank full fat coffee the entire week she was with here. I refuse to buy with my money things that are hurting her. I can be stubborn like that.
Go figure

3 thoughts on “The Starbucks Observation

  • June 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm
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    If you re-read the post the situation you mention was an ACTUAL occurance, not an example, so while your point is very valid (many many parents are feeding their kids this crap), in this example it's a real world occurance.

    That being said, the point of the whole entry was that “unhealthy begets unhealthy”. I challenge you to find one unhealthy parent pushing a cart full of healthy food items.

    Just saying.

  • June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm
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    You were right on target with your posting, until you had to make it seem like only the parents who buy junk food are the ones who can't properly parent their kids. Some of the healthy skinny eaters I know are just as good at ignoring their kids as those who eat crap food and these are the moms most likely to chug back wine with their friends while ignoring their children. Just saying.

  • June 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm
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    Super interesting! I NEVER get domed drinks at Starbuck's so at least I'm trying to do that right. But, I'm not a big fan of their coffee either so that probably helps.

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