Jan 26, 2010

an interesting kind of lie


Ah. every day another reason not to shop at whole foods.

So. So I normally don't blog about this kind of thing but I couldn't resist.

The amount of ways this is wrong wrong wrong to me is staggering.

To start, and in no particular order:

Every one of these factors are influenced by genetics to varying degrees. Cholesterol is the obvious cuplprit here. Because while some people can control it by diet and exercise, alot of people will never land in the platinum zone without medical attention. Likewise, blood pressure. Even BMI, to a certain extent, will be influenced by muscle density and bone density. I have a friend who wears the same size as me, has a similar life style and consumption and is very muscular: and weighs 10 lbs more than me. She does not experience other health issues becuase of this weight differences.

It rewards results and not work. I find it very very interesting that something couched as reward fo rbeing healthy does nothing specific to encourage healthy lifestyle. There is no discounted gym membership attached to this. No reward to people for riding their bike to work or specific discounts on healthy products (produce has higher % off than, say, tofu cheezums). This is a reward to successfully losing weight and other notable results. It punishes those who fail, and rewards those who succeed, or naturally fall within the ranges they consider healthy.

it strikes me interesting that there is a "thinner the better" quality here. ie, the bottom tier isn't broken out at the beginning of the healthy BMI range, it's the middle to lower half of the healthy BMI range. The bottom or best tier is <24. A healthy BMI is 18-24.9. The reward for being at the top of your BMI is the same as being slightly overweight. I find this interesting, in the same way I find it interesting that there is no bottom range. Aneroxics are stoked!

There are claims of confidentiality but I think most checkout people are smart enough to do the math when their coworker gets a 25% discount instead of a 30% discount.

But mostly I find it disturbing that it's pitched as a "lets work together to get healthy and lower healthcare costs" when it is quite clear it is specifically to lower agency healthcare premiums. It's interesting how specific and quantitative it is to produce proof of a demographic rather than, you know, encourage healthy behaviors. Because it's tougher to pitch to your healthcare agency that now 50% of people ride their bikes or are in smoking cessation programs. But...if you can get on record 50% of my employees are thin and do not have preexisting health conditions such as high blood pressure, than they give you a break. In short it is sort of agency wide adverse selection, pitched a communal well being.

And mostly, on some level, even if it can't be used as a hiring standard or any real method of "discriminization" it implies that your personal business is very much your employers business, and that those who are successful in all arenas of their lives are more worthy of reward. It is not trying to help, it is trying to send a message: here is Whole Foods we don't like fatties, and don't really believe in things like "genetic predisposition". We'd like you to provide you with benefits, but we'd like you to make it easy for us by not really needing them.
But mostly, we'd like our shoppers to see healthy thin people working and shopping here, so they will feel better about themselves as they pay way too much for processed soy snack foods!

It's all about teamwork! Go team!

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