THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


Thincentive

by by Beatrice Igne-Bianchi

To kick off the new year, and perhaps get people to stick with resolutions to drop a few, Whole Foods Market is implementing a program that offers bigger employee discounts to workers with lower BMIs. Whole Foods universal-health-care-opposing-union-hating-plants-based-diet-following CEO John Mackey explains in a formal letter to employees that if they choose to enroll in the Team Member Healthy Incentive Discount Program, they can raise their standard 20% discount on locally grown leafy greens and soy ice cream to as high as 30%, which definitely makes a difference at the overpriced natural and organic grocery chain. And while Mackey has stated that he is not in favor of universal health care, this incentive is largely aimed at cutting Whole Foods' health care costs, which, according to his letter, are projected to rise each year. Employees who opt into the program are ranked like American Express cards—from bronze to platinum—depending on their BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and whether or not they smoke cigarettes.

While the program appears to be a win-win for team members and Whole Foods, the tinier your waist, the fatter your wallet, some—namely Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI)—are concerned that a BMI-based discount program will infringe the law. Amy Klare of BOLI was quoted in The Portland Mercury’s Blogtown shedding light on the fact that not everyone fits into neat columns. She explained, “There are times when a person can have a condition that can affect their BMI. Blood Pressure can be affected by thyroid. And off-work tobacco use is a protected status,” which means that puffing Parliaments is one’s private information. Whole Foods needs to figure out a way to work out some of the discriminatory kinks in their new program, but until then, the yuppie food chain has become an attractive post-grad option for those of us who believe you can never be too rich or too thin.