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Whole Foods Health Plan Rewards Slimmer Workers

By Serena Solomon | January 27, 2010 6:55am | Updated on January 27, 2010 6:50am

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — The skinny on Whole Foods' new employee rewards plan: Thinner workers get deeper discounts on food.

The high-end grocery chain launched a company-wide healthy eating plan called "Health Starts Here" where workers can qualify for an additional food discount pegged to their body mass index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Currently, Whole Foods offers employees a 20 percent discount on store purchases. Now, they have the option of bumping that up to 30 percent, provided they don't use nicotine products and meet criteria for blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI.

"I understand the premise is for better health, but there is something intrusive about asking someone to mind their weight," said Anthony Bernard, a 43-year-old student exiting Whole Foods in Union Square. Loaded up with groceries in green and brown paper bags, he mentioned he would not be inclined to participate if his work offered something similar.

Violette Darti, 24-year-old pushing a cart full of salad mixes and yogurt in the store, put the onus on the food industry to change, not the consumer, when it came to the nation's obesity rate.

"If it promotes health it's a good way, but not if it leads to an obsessing about weight," she said, of the company's new health plan.

Whole Foods' Web site states the incentive is optional. The company didn't return calls for comment.

In a company letter from John Mackey, the company's CEO, employees were informed the program was designed to reduce Whole Foods's $150 million health care bill from last year, the Daily News reported.

The paper also wrote health screenings began on Jan. 21, and those who pass can expect to have their "Team Member Healthy Discount" cards in March.