Consider this news bulletin, and think about how we can encourage people to live healthier lives. Is this the way??
Call to Action - Consider Carefully Where You Spend Your Grocery Dollars
Steven A. Burd, Safeway's chief executive says he has set an example for employers nationwide by rewarding employees for healthy behavior. His wellness program requires workers to pay higher insurance premiums if they flunk tests for measures such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
As proof that his plan works, he claimed their health care costs for four years have been held constant. Really? The element of Safeway's benefits plan tying employees' premiums to medical test results was not implemented until 2009, according to Safeway Senior Vice President Ken Shachmut.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has a plan for cutting his health insurance costs by giving his employees extra discounts on their company store purchases based on their Body Mass Index (BMI).
Employees with a BMI between 28 and 29.9 will get a 22% discount; those with a BMI of 26-28.9 will get a 25% discount; those with a BMI of 24-25.9 will get a 27% discount; and those below 24 will get a 30% discount. Employees must also meet blood pressure and cholesterol criteria and not use nicotine to qualify. All company employees are afforded a 20% discount on their purchases.
These approaches in company wellness programs are not effective long term strategies. They simply repeat a cycle of stigma and bias in workplaces across America (Puhl et al, 2008). Wellness Programs that encourage and support holistic healthy lifestyle changes independent of BMI are much more effective.
In light of the discriminatory practices of these industry leaders, NAAFA urges our members and all those who believe that discrimination is wrong to consider very carefully where you spend your hard earned grocery budget. We encourage you to support grocery suppliers whose benefits packages benefit all employees equally. We encourage you to support co-ops and farmer's markets for your organic grocery needs. You work hard for your money. Use it wisely to support those who do not promote weight bias and discrimination.
Those of you who wish to express you concerns and opinions to these company leaders may do so at the following addresses:
John Mackey, CEO
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703-4644
Steven Burd, CEO
5918 Stoneridge Mall Rd.
Pleasanton, CA 94588