Friday, January 29, 2010

A "WHOLE" Lot of Problems

I have to know what people think about this. I have been reading some fat acceptance blogs and sites  (which are fabulous for anyone to read; they really teach you a thing or two about being who you are no matter what you are) and I have come across this issue multiple times:  WHOLE FOODS is offering to higher employee discounts if they have a BMI lower than 30!!!! The store claims that this incentive to employers is offered as a means to control the cost of health insurance covered by the company. Within this program there are different levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum for BMI ranges below 30, 28, 26, and 24 to get discount levels of 22, 25, 27, and the coveted 30%. In addition to each level's BMI employers are expected to kick the nicotine habit if they have one and be tested for blood pressure and cholesterol levels within their specific BMI range. It needs to be mentioned that this program is simply an incentive and is OPTIONAL for all employess. All employees will still receive a 20% discount.

All over the internet I have been reading rants about this new incentive program and I do understand where they are coming from. A person's health is not simply measured by your body mass index which more often than not does not account for age, frame size, muscle mass or medical conditions that may contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol, etc. So people who want the discount but do not fall into these very specific health ranges are at a grave disadvantage.

I was also a little disturbed when you figure that the company is withholding a discount for healthy foods from the people who need it more than those who have already acheived their desired weight, have active lifestyles, or healthier habits. That's not to say that larger people do not eat healthy foods or have active lifestyles but in order to fit into this stereotyped body ideal holding out a sometimes much needed discount seemed wrong until I read a little closer...

In  paragraphs 6 and 7 of the letters sent to employees (posted at the end of this entry) tell of other programs sponsored by WHOLE FOODS "such as the Total Immersion Program and the Green Trek Challenge (based off of their Health Starts Here Initiative started this year), the Healthy Discount Program is completely voluntary. The Total Immersion Program is a free service to team members offering them health and wellness education. WHOLE FOODS is also partnering with Eat Right America and Engine 2 Diet to offer not only team members but also customers in store education and help when shopping that...
"...will feature free information, recipes, in-store lectures, events and support groups. A selection of supporting educational books and cookbooks will also be for sale alongside the “Engine 2 Diet” book and “Eat Right America” program materials"
See more about the Health Start Initiative and it's prgrams at

While I would be a little hurt because I am one of those employees that would not be able to get a greater discount (I do not work for WHOLE FOODS) although I do not look "unhealthy" and I would like to save a penny anywhere I can I really don't see the harm in these new programs (besides a bruised ego). It looks like WHOLE FOODS is going in the right direction when it comes to making things better for their employees and their communities. The Healthy Discount program would cause me to get involved in one of thier Health Start Initiative programs, not to follow the crowd but to use these tools offered to me in order to find out how to impliment these skills and habits into my lifestyle so that I am able to lead a healthier more active life; everyone who has had a plan work for them could always learn something from someone else and what works for them...


Eat Right America
"Right America’s personalized nutritional assessment tool, called “Nutrition Prescription,” which offers individual nutrition and health assessments combined with personalized eating plans."

The Engine 2 Diet
"A [book outlining a] plant-strong plan that can help with weight loss, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of disease."

Here are the two letter sent to the employees:
(Simply click on the Letter Images to Enlarge and Read)
Letter 1

Letter 2