Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whole Foods Employee Discounts Based on BMI

Whole Foods to give greater employee discounts to workers with lower BMI, cholesterol.

"That's the message behind Whole Foods' drive to cut its health care costs by offering fatter employee discounts to workers who are in tip-top shape. The pricey grocery chain will give 30% discounts to those who don't smoke and have low blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) rates, says CEO John Mackey...Those showing "platinum" health will earn 30% discounts; "gold" gets 27% and silver 25%, while "bronze" wins 22% off."

The article includes complaints that this is discriminating against those that aren't "naturally thin". I'm not sure how I feel, the incentive part is good, but isn't it the overweight who need the greater discount?


Anonymous said...

Apparently, all Whole Foods employees start at a 20% discount. If they participate in the program they can increase their discount (e.g., by losing weight) and get a free health screening in addition.

That's great.

It's all carrot and no stick. So some skinny Whole foods employees get a small extra break on their food bill, is that a reason to derail something that may help thousands of employees attain better health. Perhaps the plan's opponents want to deny skinny people a chance at a free health screening, and maybe save a life or two. God forbid.

If we know, medically speaking, that being overweight is a significant risk factor for a myriad of diseases, then what's the problem to incentivize people to a healthier lifestyle.

Some people need to chill out, stop being obstuctionist and start worrying about real problems. This is just political correctness run amok.

Instead of carping about skinny people, why not suggest another carrot like a an extra day off for every five pounds lost, in addition to the discount. That favors the oveweight at the expense of the skinny folks. Great idea, easy to implement, targets the incentive to the group most likely to benefit from it, but just one problem. It's not permissable because it still makes body fat the enemy (which it is).

For what it's worth, overweight people probably need the discount less, that is of course, unless they use it to buy more vegetables and lean meats and fish. But, at least it gives them an incentive to lose weight and to keep it off.

Lord knows I could use a good incentive myself.

Karl said...

Wow. I see this as a huge discrimination issue particuallrly for things like cholesterol which have clearly been linked to heredity over lifestyle. But even beyond that, it raises the whole question of whether an employer has the right to dictate lifestyle choices. I can't imagine this program would stand up to a trial.