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Whole Foods healthcare plan

2010-01-26 18:56:10.867478+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Interesting: Whole Foods offers health insurance discount to employees based on BMI and other factors

Eligible Team Members will have an opportunity to increase their discount by meeting specific criteria related to significant health measures. These measures include blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and being a non-nicotine-user.

I'd raise a lot less of an eyebrow if the BMI were a more scientifically based criterium.

[ related topics: Health Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-30 06:41:47.533395+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, I should also correct: This doesn't have an effect on their healthcare plan, this has an effect on their employee discount for purchases from whole foods.

Given that limited buying power and cheap food seems to be what's causing the overweight issue in the first place, this really just means that only thin people will work at whole foods.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-29 12:53:46.570732+00 by: m


These issues are complex. There are many who believe that whole body fat is not the best correlator, but rather waist fat.

There are many known correlators of heart disease: cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL, VLDL, oral hygeine and others. There are many as yet unexplained and probably unknown confounding factors. Half of all heart attacks occur in what would otherwise appear to be "cardiac healthy" individuals.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-28 19:37:59.313831+00 by: petronius

Why does this sound like a "pre-existing condition"? But of course, fatties are the only social group that it's still OK to hate.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 16:57:02.789821+00 by: Dan Lyke

Larry, I think the studies on waist to hip ratio suggest that it isn't even as simple as body fat percentage, although with modern impedance measurement systems that's probably actually easier to get a number for than BMI.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 14:17:59.285771+00 by: Larry Burton

I saw a segment on Good Morning America this morning that touched on this. It was about "Normal Weight Obesity" and basically said that one can be obese while weighing in at normal if one's body fat percentage was too high. Health benefits aren't seen in losing weight but in losing fat or getting the fat percentage of the body down to acceptable levels.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 13:43:07.801574+00 by: m

BMI is sort of a joke. You can immediately see that, because it does not even differentiate between men and women. The old insurance company tables that used gender and skeletal structure were better. But as Dan points out waist to hip ratio is far superior. A view of an unclothed body, while subjective, is another. So is waist fat toniometry -- a scientific measure of the old pinch an inch schema.

In short, BMI is neither sufficiently sensitive for, nor specific for the determination of obesity.

Even Adolphe Quetelet, from whose work it was derived, didn't think it was useful on an individual basis. Even the current BMI calculation is a "simplified" version, as a more appropriate power for the height is 2.6 rather than 2. Being "difficult to calculate" has no possible justification for today's. world.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 07:09:54.052951+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, here we go: How about waist to hip ratio?

A previous Flutterby entry has a couple of links on being overweight per the BMI being healthier.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 07:05:34.92765+00 by: Dan Lyke

I guess the real issue is how they use BMI. It seems pretty clear that (and I say this as someone who falls dead in the middle of the BMI tables) that the standard government notions of what's a healthy BMI doesn't actually correlate to healthy, slightly overweight by the BMI table has higher longevity. Of course I also don't know how that correlates to overall healthcare costs.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-27 00:27:37.84818+00 by: meuon

Yeah, it's a fair indicator for the middle of the curve, there are lots of exceptions (some ethnicities may have a different chart, for example) and the military has used it for years.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-01-26 23:07:37.205205+00 by: crasch

If not BMI, what measures do you think they should use?