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Quick hit: Surprise, Paul Campos is right about something

January 26, 2010
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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is offering employees greater discounts for maintaining his definition of a “healthy” weight. Check it:

The details: employees with a Body Mass Index of between 28 and 29.9 will get a 22% discount on their purchases; 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).
Paul Campos hits it pretty well when he reminds us that a lower BMI is not necessarily healthier (and may in fact be related to a greater mortality risk), and that without a floor this requirement fails to recognize the problem of disordered eating. He points out that the argument isn’t even internally consistent: if, as Mackey believes, thinness is just a few seared Ahi tuna steaks away, why not make it easier for teh fattiez to get them?

Let’s let Campos play us off:

All this is a classic example how the habitus of upper class people in America ends up getting projected onto the broader culture, under the rubric of “a healthy lifestyle.” It’s also an example of how healthism and junk science are powerful weapons in the fight to avoid that most dreaded thing, a fair and efficient health care system for all Americans. Few myths in that fight are more pernicious than the idea that if you get sick it’s your fault, because you didn’t make healthy choices, such as searing that Ahi tuna you bought at Whole Foods after lightly coating it in $30 a bottle olive oil.

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