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Whole Foods Rewards Workers Who Lose Weight (VIDEO)

cnn.com | 02/02/10

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Read More: bmi, body mass index, cnn, Health insurance, weightloss, whole foods

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Based on the controversial sound of our email newsletter, a number of people have assumed that VegSource is critical of or otherwise has a problem with Whole Food's health-incentive program. In fact the opposite is true. We had our tongue firmly in cheek in that email.

We think this is a model program which other companies should adopt. We were playing devil's advocate in our email by calling this "discrimination" because some groups are calling it that and condeming what we feel is Whole Foods' excellent program.  We strongly disagree with the "obesity awareness" groups in the CNN video below who think Whole Foods is being unfair by rewarding employees who seek to improve their health.

Whole Foods has also recently taken to giving prominent display in their stores to books from leading plant-based diet advocates, such as John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, John Robbins, Neal Barnard, Caldwell & Rip Esselstyn, and others. If more companies adopted the Whole Foods' strategies and concern for their employees, the world would quickly become a much healthier place. 


UPDATE: We have learned from a goood friend who is personally involved in the management of the Whole Foods program that part of the program is that Whole Foods is paying for a number of its least healthy employees to take residential programs with Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. McDougall and Dr Esselstyn. These programs teach healthy eating and effective lifestyle habits to lose weight and reverse disease. So Whole Foods is investing real money to help their employees who want help in getting healthy.

 

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Whole Foods is tired of paying high health insurance costs, so they've created incentives for employees to lose weight -- the leaner they are, the more money they save when shopping at the store.

We think this sounds like a fabulous idea.

Should companies start creating incentives for employees to get healthy?

What do you think?

Watch the video below...

 

VOTE NOW:



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37 Comments | Leave a comment

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Maybe it's dscriminatory, but it seems to me it's legal discrimination. They don't have to give anyone discounts, they're a private company.

Forbid that they should try to incent their employees to be healthy Imagine!

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I'm glad to see someone is trying to motivate this country to lose weight and be healthy. We need to stop making excuses and get health - what better motivation for those employees. I commend you WF!

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When I used to work for USAA insurance, they gave us an additional 150 dollars towards our health benefits if we pledged to not smoke, exercise regularly, and move toward a healthy weight.

I don't think this is really anything that new. Maybe the difference here is that whole foods is actually holding employees accountable.

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That is a similar principle. Except that pledging to do something and actually doing it are different. I think we would get checked annually or something, free of charge. And we are encouraged to get the testing done because it's paid for by the company even if we know we won't qualify (i.e. are a smoker, the only thing that 100% eliminates you from this extra incentive program) because at least then we get to find out our cholesterol, BMI, blood pressure, etc. still. Which is nice of them to encourage, knowing it's out of their pocket and that that person already would not qualify. It is not about the money nor is it discriminatory. :-)

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I think this is a terrible idea. I am a skinny Vegan. Since healthy organic produce prices are so high, it would make it more difficult for an obese individual to purchase healthy food.

It is very enticing to buy a $1 burger instead of a well balanced healthy meal.

Instead of punishing a person for being obese, rewards and incentives should be given for eating nutritious foods. A well planned program designed to acknowledge and track the persons progress should be implemented along with education on nutrition.


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Hi! Again, nobody is punished and it is not about fat vs. thin. Furthermore, as a vegan I would think that you'd be aware that the cost of even organic beans, especially in bulk, are cheaper than even a $1.00 burger. I think you are underestimating the availability of high-quality organic vegan foods to people of all incomes. It's just a matter of people becoming aware of their options. Most overweight people are not overweight from a $1 burger, if it's from fast food and junk food, too, and I say that as someone who's been pretty darn overweight before. It's from spending more than that. ;-) While it is true that some more decadent or luxurious vegan options are more costly, these are optional; eating more whole and less processed foods is always more ideal. Plus, organic companies do not have the luxury of all kinds of government subsidies/payoffs to keep the cost down.

In the brilliant documentary "Eating", available at www.ravediet.com, the real cost of meat is revealed to be about $90 a lb when you equate all the resources (i.e. gas, water, feed crops, etc.) Pretty tough to compete with, but organic beans and whole grains actually do come out to be cheaper than a value meal at any fast food joint when it comes down to it.

I love that you mean well, and are looking out for a group of people (the obese) who take a beating from our culture, the media, employers, other citizens and more, and for superficial reasons, totally. We need more thoughtful people like you, truly. But making excuses for overweight people to not be able to eat healthy really isn't helping them. Especially when you know that that person can only be unhappy at heart. (And they are; just listen to the contestants on The Biggest Loser. Every one of them is in so much pain over their health, it's heartbreaking!)

It is key to recognize and realize that unhealthy people have ENOUGH excuses of their own as to why they cannot live a healthy lifestyle or afford healthy foods, "even if they wanted to", and confirming this excuse isn't helping them, it's validating them. Providing positive, viable options, free education, and unconditional support IS what will help make a difference in the health of this nation and on others. Which Whole Foods does.

I mean, just look at how MEAN and ugly-sounding those trainers are on The Biggest Loser most of the time, LOL! And look at the astounding RESULTS they get, time and time again, despite what the contestants feel they are or are not capable of doing. Look at how much the contestants love and thank THEM for their incredible help and assistance....and NOT all the fast food restaurant chains with their 24-hour a day value meal options, for "making all their dreams possible". ;-)

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I am definitely aware of the high costs of a vegan diet verses an unhealthy meat based diet. I have been cooking for over 40 years, for the family I grew up in, and my own family that I raised. More than half of those years I cooked a meat-based diet following the guidelines that the FDA provides along with their food pyramid. Since I could purchase the subsidized meat, milk, eggs and cheese along with less vegetables according to those guidelines in comparison to a Vegan diet, the costs were preposterously much less.

A unplanned diet consisting of McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken which is even more heavily subsidized the cost is even lower, and eating this substandard food is becoming a way of life for many people since not as many families cook any more or even have dinner together. We are all running around working hard to just provide the necessities these days and not a lot of people have the time to cook anymore.

Now who is paying for these subsidized products? We all are including Vegans who aren't even eating them. So, not only are we paying for our own foods that we eat but for the foods that I find repugnant now for others.

I have been shopping and cooking as a Vegan for eight years now. The cost of fresh produce is shamefully high, especially organic. Fresh produce is what makes the bulk of what we eat.

While dried beans and lentils are very affordable, nuts and seeds, flax oil and flax seed for our Omega 3's, yogurt to provide probiotics, a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to provide the anti-oxidants, isoflavones and fiber that we need. Olive Oil replaces most of the vegetable oil which is too high in Omega 6. Then there are nuts and seeds, along with the higher costs of Hemp milk, soy milk and almond milk, veganaise etc. This may sound like a lot of changes but these changes are what make a diet Optimal. And that is what we are talking about is an optimal and healthy diet.

But hmmm... I haven't even gotten to the main topic and that is about the Whole Foods Rewards Workers Who Lose Weight topic.

I'll get back to you later ertarox, I love your passion and enthusiasm and how you present your views in such an unoffensive and friendly way.

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I would LOVE to correspond more with you, and actually get some feedback for some projects I am working on. What a wonderful resource you are! You are clearly intelligent, educated, experienced, and articulate. I am wondering if some of the prices have to do with location/proximity to big cities, etc. And you've likely looked into co-ops and CSA programs as well. Any input would be valuable to me, so I hope to hear from you. And thank you, by the way! :)

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While the above intro is very vague, your newsletter on the topic was shameful, as you'll read in my response to it.

I actually work for Whole Foods. Everybody gets the same benefits, across the board, and no extra "money" is given out to anyone. Whole Foods is giving employees the opportunity to get screened if they wish to receive an even bigger discount than the standard, employee discount we already receive, if they so choose (and will even pay for the screenings), and as an incentive to those who go the extra mile to be healthy, just as some go the extra mile for customer service and are rewarded. It's a great program that should be encouraged at other establishments as well.

I am a new employee and am grateful to work for such a progressive business. The model is fair, totally optional, and none of us have problems with it, we think it's great incentive, for anyone interested in participating, which some aren't.

As well, Whole Foods is taking the time and resources to train it's whole staff on Dr. Joe Furhman's new "Eat Right, America!" program, and is educating the public on it as well, in order to assist in helping America be a healthier country. This, too, is applaudable. Why not report as that? What other companies are doing this? Educating staff and customers on a vegetarian, really vegan, diet?

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Thanks for your comments. Please see the Editor's Note added to the article above.

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HRPufnstuf, they are not being "punished" for being obese. They ARE being offered rewards for improving themselves and making healthier choices.
Reread the article.

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I think it is FABULOUS that they are giving discounts to healthier sized employees...and making the healthy lifestyle available to the heavy ones with books from Dr. John McDougall, etc! Go john Mackey

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GREAT IDEA!! If health isn't enough of a reason, perhaps this will help!!

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I AM A LONGTIME VEGETARIAN,AND A RECENT VEGAN.HOW DOES WHOLE FOODS FEEL ABOUT TAKING THE MONEY FROM MY FAT ASS WHEN I SHOP THERE? BY THE WAY I AM AS HEALTHY AS A HORSE-NO DIABETES,HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE OR ANY OF THAT,I JUST EAT TOO MUCH.

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John Mackey, CEO, of Whole Foods stirred people up months ago stating that health care is not a right. I applaud Whole Foods for taking a stand.

Companies, and individuals, must take responsibility for their own health. Whole Foods offers a great opportunity to their employees to get healthy! Kudos.

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I commend Whole Foods for doing this. Americans are literally eating themselves to death and a majority of them refuse to take responsibility for what they've done to themselves. As someone who tries hard to take care of myself, it's not fair that my insurance rates keep soaring because of all the unhealthy people. As a slim non-smoker, why should I have to suffer because people eat themselves up to 400 pounds and need quadruple bypass surgeries?! There is nothing wrong with rewarding employees for choosing a healthier lifestyle.

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Like a lot of retail companies Whole Foods allows it's employees pay less than the general public. However, overweight employees pay 11.4% more than other employees. I suppose private businesses can get away with just about anything. How much could they make you pay for being gay, becoming pregnant, or being a minority?

This program is not about promoting health. It is cold business marketing and cost cutting. Whole Foods wants to drive out unfit employees because they don't fit their brand. They want fit looking employees to sell their products. If they really cared about helping less fit employees to become more fit they would spend money on programs to help them, not punish them. This program rewards employees who are fit and punishes employees who are not. It only creates more obstacles (e.g. increased cost, shame, embarrassment) for employees struggling to become more fit. This is just one more reason for my entire vegan family to continue boycotting Whole Foods.

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Hi Veganpops! I am a Whole Foods employee, again. Many of my fellow employees are overweight, gay, have disabilities, are minorities, you name it. Whole Foods actually cares for AND takes care of it's employees in a way that most other companies DON'T, which is why it's a hard company to get into, even just as a bagger or cart-runner.

It is interesting to me that everybody takes this new ADVANTAGE to Whole Foods employees as a big punishment to those who are overweight/unfit: it is about HEALTH, period. t is about having a healthy BMI, healthy cholesterol level, healthy blood pressure, and not smoking. You can have too high of a BMI and still qualify for an extra discount, within various ranges. Ditto for other areas. The ONLY thing that disqualifies people, period, no matter what, is smoking. Myself having a few lbs to lose AND being an on-again off-again smoker, I consider it motivating.

Most mainstream grocery stores do not even give a discount, usually 5 percent at best. We get a generous discount, as Whole Foods encourages it's employees to be happy and healthy. They do this in other ways as well: gainsharing (which is unheard of at other companies), monthly giveaways to countless employees who excel in their given areas -- as voted by their team members/co-workers, allowing team members to educate other team members in areas of health they may be passionate about (i.e. raw foods, gluten-intolerance education, detox, etc.) AND I am proud to say that we have an employee fund where employees have the OPTION to contribute a minimum of $1 and a maximum of whatever they want from their paycheck to a fund for emergencies that their team members run into. One example is when an employee died and their family did not have the finances for the funeral, another is when an employees house burned down, etc. The employees voted to use this money to help out in these situations. As well, during Hurricane Katrina, countless stores voted to use this money to assist displaced Whole Foods employees affected by the disaster. This is all voluntary, and I think it speaks volumes for the character of the company and what the employees must think of it by donating from their paychecks to help their fellow co-workers in need (and NOT being "punished" in any way at all if we DON'T).

And hey, our paid time off accrues as we work and rolls over to the next year if we don't use it, etc. Did you know that at Whole Foods if, say, you worked there and only had two weeks of vacation a year, but a family member of yours was extremely ill and you needed to be there for them for six weeks, other employees can DONATE their vacation time they are not using to you, so you are not without income during that much-needed time with your loved one? What other company offers such rewarding policies? There's a reason we are always listed at the top of the charts in Forbes' annual list of the top companies to work for, hands down. NOBODY is discriminated against, not in hiring, not in benefits (which are outstanding, and which part-timers are eligible for), not due to looks, gender, age, race, sex or religion.

Also in keeping with our values, we give bag credits (refunds) to those who bring their own bags, and we ask customers if they would like to donate that money to various local charities and groups that we support, that are constantly rotating. And the list goes on. The work that The Whole Planet Foundation does around the world is beyond moving. As a vegan, you should be happy to know that we also encourage our customers to try new things (i.e. soy meats, etc.) at a risk-free guarantee because we want them to be healthy; our return policy is excellent for that matter alone. We use wind-energy, are very devout about recycling, and hire third-party teams out of our money to ensure that we are meeting the highest standards that we have set for ourselves, NOT ones the government has set for stores....which are far inferior.

I truly hope some of this more factual information has helped and changed your opinion of Whole Foods. Myself and others who have a few lbs to lose do NOT pay an extra 11% in any way, and we even get a very generous discount at a great gym chain that we have an alliance with. As well with various cell phone companies. Simply to thank us for making Whole Foods as great an experience as we can for our customers, by educating us (which they are constantly doing, but never "quizzing" us on), so that we can best provide healthful information to our customers. Even non-vegan employees can explain vegan options and ingredients to customers, and baggers who may follow the SAD diet can discuss the benefits of organic produce. Cashiers, mid-sale, will grab a coupon book and inform unaware customers that some of the items they are purchasing have coupons for that month, and will rip them out and use them on the spot to help our customers, financially, or any other way we can think of.

I've ran offices, managed institutes, worked corporately, and have always had a good work ethic but a more leftist outlook on life. I take more pride in running carts, at 35 years old, at Whole Foods, than I have in the past at any one of those positions.

So, all in all, this new incentive that is being offered is similar to that of extra credit, to use the best "first" analogy that comes to mind. Do you have any kids? If so, let's assume one is really a hard-working, great student. Even does extra credit, to ultimately enhance their GPA in order to receive greater opportunities in life. So much so that your daughter is offered a scholarship, as such students often are, for academic excellence. Would you agree that the other students in the school who chatted online or partied while your daughter was at home studying and going the extra mile were "discriminated against"? That she inherently, by striving to do her best, "embarrassed and shamed" the other students because they were not offered scholarships?

This model is directly comparable, and hopefully opens your mind to considering that what we are doing is very similar. If overweight employees wanted to live on an entirely fast food diet, nobody cares, and they have the same insurance, benefits, and opportunities within the company to move up and be promoted as any other employee. I would think you would be happy that we are a very large, national grocery chain that has opted to openly promote a vegan diet (with no discrimination or judgment on our non-vegan customers who are not interested). Additionally, we have a list a mile long of food ingredients and additives that are not allowed to be stocked in our stores, period. Even living on the very progressive northwest coast for years, where organic local produce at small mom and pop grocery stores is very abundant, you will still see products with transfats or aspartame in them. Such ingredients, and many many more, are dealbreakers at our stores due to our stand against such outrages. So do we now discriminate against Nabisco or Dolly Madison? Just things to think about. I certainly hope your family reconsiders about boycotting Whole Foods; we have a lot more new and exciting vegan products available as a result of our proactive "Health Starts Here!" initiative, promoting the benefits of a healthy vegan diet and lifestyle. Because the overwhelming amount of Americans are, right now, digging their graves with their fork and spoon. Your family is even welcome to give a talk or presentation at your local Whole Foods should you desire, seeing as how you are living a life that other families are trying to adopt. And I would encourage you to do so. :-)

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Whole Foods does a number of good things for it's employees and for the community. But, that does not make every program a good program. I do appreciate most of what Whole Foods does for it's employees and for the community.

However, under this program I would pay the lowest price. If I happened to be obese I would pay almost 12% more for the same products. That is a punishment. It is obvious that it is a punishment when you apply the same program to gays or other minorities. If you are gay you pay more and the other employees all know it. You can try to make it sound nice by saying that straight employees just get a larger discount. That does not change the fact that gay employees would be paying more than straight employees. It would be discrimination and it would be wrong.

If I am wrong about this then why not require the obese employees to pay the full retail price. They would then be paying 43% more than me. That would be an even greater "reward" for them to become fit. That would make it a really great incentive.

The editors added the happy note that they heard a rumor that Whole Foods was funding programs to help their obese employees escape from this punishment. That's nice, but it does not change the fact that they are being punished for being fat. They could simply fund helpful programs like those and skip the part where obese employees get publicly embarrassed and charged more for the very products they need to improve their health.

I should say that my point in mentioning gays and other minorities was not to suggest that Whole Foods discriminates against those groups. Quite the contrary. I think it is clear to most people that it is terribly wrong to discriminate against employees who are part of most minority groups. Perhaps it is only because obese people are perceived as having a choice it appears acceptable to discriminate against them in exactly the same way.


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This program is definitely a punishment and hardly an incentive. An obese person would have to put an enormous amount of effort to get the same reward as an already fit person. This only leads to defeatism, where an obstacle would seem insurmountable.

If it is true that Whole foods is paying for programs that will benefit overweight people by educating them on proper nutrition and exercise, then that is a wonderful way to reward someone, with good health! Offering a monetary reward based on the test I am certain would make an individual feel like he is in a contest with others that don't have to put as much effort as he would.

When you make a reward for someone it isn't made at the detriment to others. It's the same psychology as giving a child who behaved a reward like a new toy, but the bad child who doesn't behave gets nothing.

Of course the reward less child feels like he is being punished.

This is also blatent discrimination. I would like to see what the ACLU has to say about something like this.

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VeganPops & HRPufnstuf, I am still just sorry to see that you seem to be responding to the title of this video and not the comments being made.

People can be overweight and still get additional benefits. If it could be said that ANYBODY is being discriminated against THE MOST---under your interpretation of what "discrimination" is, it would be the smokers.

HRPufnstuf, you wrote that you think it's entirely repugnant that you have to not only buy your groceries without subsidies, but pay for the subsidized foods that are more available then to the people that they are making ill and/or killing, thus driving up the cost of health care as well, of course. Right?

Just as cigarettes, a proven deadly killer, is taxed an arm and a leg HIGHER than everything else in this country, a "class action suit" which the ACLU has not gotten involved with yet, to my knowledge, but is something clearly you and veganpops feel they should be fighting based on the fact that smokers are clearly being "unlawfully discriminated against", would you agree that instead of subsidizing foods that have the same proven deadly relationship with people as cigarettes do, that those foods should be either taxed more, because otherwise the obese and unhealthy are being given advantages and privileges for eating known poisonous, deadly foods and that this is not only unfair to smokers but also to those who---like you described, HRPufnstuf---go out of their way to avoid these foods and spend a lot more money as a result in trying to feed your family responsibly and be a more responsible citizen?

Or do you agree with paying the subsidies because if you don't, then fast food prices would be impossible for anybody to afford and that is discriminatory to unhealthy, obese fast food customers, who are now inconvenienced on top of not being able to afford any of the foods they like?

The way the system is set up right now, it could easily be seen as discriminating against people who choose to be vegan and eat organic, correct? You pay more, you have to drive further, you are forced to invest in agricultural and food practices that morally disgust you and pay for what could be seen as less-responsible (healthwise) citizen's foods, no? Wouldn't you rather want to know why the ACLU is not commenting on this blatant discrimination?

I guess I just don't see it. I'm a human rights activist, a civil rights activist, a GLB rights activist, an animal rights activist, a feminist, but I apply it towards sensible pursuits. I think it speaks volumes, VeganPops, that your concern is for the embarrassment heavy employees might feel at this incentive. I can assure you, though, that there will be just as many thin, "fit-appearing" employees who smoke or who have high cholesterol or blood pressure, and they will not walk around feeling embarrassed and humiliated, and who's defense I see nobody running to....Nope. Just the 'fat people'.

Why is this? Consider this: I actually think it's assuming a lot to think that everybody who has an unoptimal BMI (read: not morbidly obese, but unoptimal BMI)is greatly mortified and shameful at the way they look. It's simply not true, and the source of everybody's "concern" perhaps can be seen as even more offensive or insulting; the presumption that all non-thin or pleasantly plump people feel awful and lowly about themselves. It is simply not true.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Even the assumption, as was made, that Whole Foods is going so far as to send it's fat employees through McDougall's or Furhman's program, which was made at least a couple of times on this forum, is insulting. A) That would be discriminating against thin, even fit, employees who have staggering levels of cholesterol or blood pressure, no? and B) That is simply not true; ANYBODY is allowed to apply for this opportunity. It is NOT because the company is upset with how it's employees look, please; they have their choice of who they hire, there is no shortage of applicants at any time, and they look at the WHOLE PERSON, not their image. ;-)

This "outrage" is simply because the general public, even those who are well-intentioned like yourselves, carry preconceived notions about how anybody overweight must feel about themselves, and it is automatically assumed that Whole Foods is just as judgmental.

The testing is optional, the results are not shared. Nobody knows who is interested in it or not, or really cares. There is zero public humiliation involved, again. Fat people are NOT being singled out, I guess I don't know what more can be said. The benefits and programs we have for our employees make it one of the top companies in the world to work for. Those in the highest of management, if they choose to be tested, will have to fall in the same healthy ranges as everybody else in the company. If someone only is eligible for 5% more not the 10, due to cholesterol or blood pressure, they are allowed to of course get retested if they want, if it's that important to them, after adjusting their diet or lifestyle enough to believe they have eliminated the problem.

The truth is, we already get monthly bonuses, monthly rewards and a very generous discount, and some are motivated by the thought of an extra ten percent, others aren't, plain and simple. Some barely use their discount to begin with except for odds and ends. (Should those who buy more of their groceries at the store for their family get a bigger discount than those who put very little of their money back in the store, too?) Again, this is extra credit. People are making a much bigger deal than it is. We know we have it good there. ;-) And God bless you for being so concerned about the self-image of the overweight. For real. There may be better ways to express your concerns for them than to isolate them out of all the other equally-serious and yet naturally controllable---even what many of the health experts featured on this site would likely refer to as "optional"---health concerns, and justautomatically assuming that they are miserable, disgusted and embarrassed by the way they look (to you). Because that may not be how they look to themselves, you realize. And they can still qualify for a larger "bonus" discount than a thin person, easily.

BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THIS PROGRAM IS: A BONUS. IN SALES, DO EXECUTIVES NOT GET BONUSES BASED ON THEIR EFFORTS? IN COUNTRIES ALL ACROSS AMERICA, THEY DO. And yeah, likely the good-looking, fit, more charismatic salesman makes more than the overweight, slow, less-energetic salesman, purely because this nation IS superficial, agreed, and there IS lookism and prejudice, TOTALLY AGREED.

And I LOVE LOVE LOVE that people like yourselves are concerned about their well-being, the rights of animals, the environment, protecting the rights of minorities, ARE OUT THERE. Because I am one of "you"! :-) But just as you and the ACLU are not protesting when Lazy Linda, TV Ted, and Boozehound Bob are not receiving the same sales bonuses that Energetic Erin, Research Rob and Confident Carl are getting, year in and year out, while putting in the exact same hours at the same company, I URGE YOU TO SEE THIS AS THE BONUS PROGRAM THAT IT IS, not the "punishment" or insulting, "desperate" ultimatum it has been described as. I WOULD THINK THAT THIS WOULD CLARIFY THE MATTER IN FULL, if people choose to remain upset, that is their choice...but be upset about child labor laws being violated or that the Supreme Court just ruled that they themselves have no authority to regulate the sponsoring of presidents by corporations (in so many words); please don't be upset about OUR "lot in life" working over at Whole Foods. :) It's such a waste of a golden opportunity for the media to highlight an ACTUAL injustice is all.

At any rate, I hope this final post finds you well and perhaps gave you pause to think and possibly reconsider your thoughts. Even if you don't, thanks for the opportunity to better express myself!

And--LOL---HRPufnstuf, if there's one by you, please consider applying. :) That would help with your grocery bills as well as showcase your expertise. ;-)

Have an awesome night.

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Update: I have learned from someone involved in the Whole Foods program that part of the program is that Whole Foods is paying for a number of its least healthy employees to take residential programs with Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. McDougall and Dr Esselstyn. These programs teach healthy eating and effective lifestyle habits to lose weight and reverse disease. So Whole Foods is investing real money to help their employees who want help in getting healthy. Bravo Whole Foods!

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This is awesome. And I also VERY HIGHLY applaud Whole Foods for recognizing that to support their most health challenged employees the best, they need to adopt plant based eating. This is a HUGE step for this corporation, seeing as they sell tons of animal products as well.

Throughout my 30's and into my early forties, I was 65 pounds overweight. I never once felt that I was discriminated against unfairly. I knew damn well my condition was not only completely avoidable, but that I knew exactly how to go about losing the weight and regaining my health. I just didn't want to badly enough.

It took a few years but I am down to my ideal size and weight now. The first year was really difficult-yes, I had to work hard! So yes, overweight employees WILL have to work harder than those who are already fit. It takes WAY more effort to lose the weight than to maintain the weightloss.

I have absolutely ZERO tolerance for this nonsense that fat people are unfairly discriminated against. What on Earth ever happened to personal responsibility?

Kudos Whole Foods! I am very proud of you!

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Exactly Theresa. And, again, this is not about weight. Any extra lb I carried I knew was my own doing, every cigarette I smoked, every buttered simple carb, etc.

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Vegsource, THANK YOU for clarifying your stance and for your recent edit. I truly appreciate it. And it is heartening to see that the overwhelming majority understand what a great incentive this is, and how wonderful it would be if other companies adopted such an incentive to encourage healthy employees, because healthy employees are happier people - not just at work, but in their home lives as well. :-)

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As long as we are the only western industrialized country left on the planet that does not have a universal (ie, single payer) health care system, then the vestigial and archaic employer-based system is going to put increasing pressure on employers to do stuff like this. As long as employers pay any part of the cost of health care, then they are going to want to have a say.

Now just because we must establish a single payer system as the only system which guarantees universal access to primary care at the lowest cost, this does not excuse individuals from taking reasonable steps to promote their own health, such as adopting plant-based, reduced-fat nutrition. We know it works. We know it matters.

We need to promote both single payer and rational, healthful eating. Single payer guarantees access to preventive primary care, where we can educate people on a widespread persistent basis about why all this matters.

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Nice post. I believe in universal major medical. I think certain things that are out of negligence should not be covered, personally (not as a representative of any company, just my own opinion). By that I do mean the blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Great that they want to give me a bonus for having it within range, but just as suicide isn't covered by insurance, why would these things be? They are, to me, 100% optional. Yet a universal system OR privatized/employer system, as we have now, all cover these things.....

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It is less expensive to eat whole foods if you buy bulk grains, beans and the produce may seem expensive but heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes is WAY more expensive. So, please go to:
chooseveg.com.
You can find a chef to tell you how to cook delicious, healthy, slimming, whole foods, plant based dishes! No excuses, lose the fat, reverse heart disease, reverse MOST cancers, reverse diabetes, and you will be able to look in the mirror and go: "WOW", I am beautiful!

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Yeah, and you can likely youtube it or read blogs and not even buy a single recipe book anymore ;-)

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If you want to slim down as a vegan: go to Dr. John McDougall website and look up article called: THE FAT VEGAN

You will learn why, even as a vegan, you can have a FAT ass!

And how to trim up that rear!

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I love the fact that Whole Foods Market has the guts to introduce a healthy lifestyle to their employees in order to help them! I do not KNOW of any company offering incentives of health living! It is JUST fantastic and especially now when you see the rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes rising at alarming rates! The USA will be better off thanks to one company, one progressive, healthy leaning company!

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THANK YOU! And the OTHER "#1" reason they are educating US is to EDUCATE OUR CUSTOMERS. We have folks who drive TWO HRS to come buy our products, yes, even our meat, but thanks to even shows like Dr. Oz and movies like Food, Inc. and #1 bestsellers like Skinny Bitch, WORD IS GETTING OUT. It is HEARTENING to go to work and see this all day.

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Ertox ....
Feel free to email me??

graphside@aol.com

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Most of these comments have been left without looking deeper into the strategy here.

The fact is, Whole Foods' health insurance isn't anything to be too proud of. And their CEO, John Mackey, strongly opposes a single payer health insurance system. Not very progressive, for such a "progressive" food market. And all the more reason to believe that Mackey's "pro-health" push for employees is more about his corporation's self-interest and less about any altruistic belief in the well-being of his workers. All he wants is to get his UnitedHealthCare utilization (and, therefore, cost) down.

Whole Foods does SOME things that are for the betterment of our country. Organic food, a more holistic health-focus, etc. But they are still a Big Box store, and NOT local. On top of that, they have misled their consumers by advertising their certified organic products, while moving slowly AWAY from organics and putting the "natural" labels on the shelf. Again, this is about making money, not providing a purely sustainable solution for consumers. (And being "consumers" is the problem. We should be our own PRODUCERS of food.)

This whole thing comes down to the profit motive and saving health insurance premium expenses. This is NOT a public service announcement.

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Dude, I respect your right to an opinion, but sometimes there IS no deeper strategy, or conspiracy at work ;-)

Um, John Mackey stepped down, you know, b/c people were upset with how he said what he said more than what he was actually saying. Which people do sometimes, yeah.

It IS progressive for companies to REALLY take care of their employees, to want them to be healthy and have the right tools, to educate them, to offer free education, to pay for expensive trips to institutes for the ones who get to go, to provide gainsharing every month, etc., instead of having every extra dollar go to the top of the pyramid. WE get it. It is HIGHLY progressive to pay out of pocket for a third-party inspection system to inspect you to make sure you are upholding your own values, to be the ONLY organic grocer EVER, and to use wind energy systems, complex recycling programs (and education), and more.

We strive to have everything as organic as we can, and won't label anything as organic that isn't. If an organic lemon touches the conventional lemons, we have to remove it. We donate our leftovers to shelters, daily, and we are always actively collecting for at least 3 different organizations. We feature as much local as we can, and we are not moving 'away' from organic in the least. On the contrary, it is becoming more and more mainstream. :) Natural and organic are two different things, hence the different labels. We have a list over 100 ingredients long, including aspartame and trans fats to just name TWO, and will feature NOTHING that carries so much as ONE of these ingredients. NOBODY ELSE, not even small local grocers in hippie towns, ARE DOING THIS. ;-)

Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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I have just read all of the new posts and I have to quickly reply to one of the issues concerning the Whole Foods Rewards Workers who lose weight.

Since there have been many other things having to do with this subject such as nutrition, prices for junk foods verses healthy foods etc. I have veered off my main point and concern. That is the issue of discrimination, period.

I would be just as adverse to discrimination against the healthy and fit if the reverse came to pass, and that would be the program to give the obese the additional discount,for whatever reason. It doesn't matter what the reason is for discriminating against any group of people, it doesn't matter what the end result would be. Discrimination is discrimination.

I am certain that it would be of benefit for McDonald's to give a discount to their obese employees and not to their fit and lean ones to give more incentive to their employees to buy more of their hamburgers. I would be just as adamant as I am being now that the practice would be wrong of them to be discriminating against the healthy employees.

Regardless of the businesses intentions, like I said discrimination is discrimination regardless of the end goal.

Ertarox, you have addressed so many subjects that we share an interest in, and I admire anyone who is concerned with social issues, such as the raping of our forests and lands to provide acreage for livestock, and how it affects our environment, about human and animal rights etc. Since I would love to address these issues and discuss them with you it will take time for me to go over what you have written, and when I have some more time to post some replies to you concerning them.

And thank you also for your insight and thoughtfulness on important subjects like these.

Until then, have a nice weekend!

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Hey thanks! Maybe better you email me personally from my site at www.schoolofrawk.com. It has my email listed on it. ;-) I look forward to it. Gross about McDonalds, but totally true, agreed, in philosophy. However, I even remember when I was a Brownie in 2nd grade and how the girls who sold the most girlscout cookies got bonus patches and rewards. The rest of us weren't "discriminated" against, we had the option to go out every day and try if we wanted. Ditto for salesman who get paid commission bonuses, as I brought up earlier, and so forth. So, again, it is impossible to call Whole Foods discriminatory against the obese (because it simply isn't true) or anybody else; it is simply a BONUS that everybody has equal opportunity to go work for or not. Period. I'm waiting for non-smokers to protest the extraordinary tax on cigarettes still.....and so far, nobody. Why is that?

Looking fwd to hearing from you, and have a great weekend. :)

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