Health

 

Whole Foods to reward workers who lose weight

mercurynews.com | 11/24/09

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Read More: diet, health, john mackey, whole foods

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Whole Foods Market, the largest U.S. natural-goods grocer, plans to sweeten store discounts to employees who lose weight and measurably improve their health.

Workers will receive discounts of 20 percent, rising to 30 percent, based on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body-mass index and whether they smoke or not, CEO John Mackey said in an interview Monday. The program is voluntary and begins in January, he said.

"We're making an investment and we expect a return," Mackey said referring to potential savings in health care costs. Whole Foods spent $150 million on self-insured health coverage last year, he said.

The offer reflects his published opinion that most health problems are "self-inflicted" and can be prevented through proper diet, exercise and similar lifestyle changes. Cost savings are achieved by "less government control and more individual empowerment," he has said.

Mackey angered some Whole Foods customers in August when he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column that people "have no intrinsic right to health care." It is a service, just like food, clothing and shelter, "best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges." The resulting outcry included calls for a boycott and his ouster.

 

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