Albertson's shoppers in the Seattle area are 10 times more likely to be obese than Whole Foods customers, a stark reminder that the social groups most prone to obesity are often invisible to those with more money and power.
According to MSNBC's JoNel Aleccia, a study by University of Washington researchers found that just 4% of Seattle-area Whole Foods shoppers were obese, compared with 40% of those shopping at Albertson's. Aleccia succinctly explains, "That's likely because people willing to pay $6 for a pound of radicchio are more able to afford healthy diets than people stocking up on $1.88 packs of pizza rolls to feed their kids." Lead study author Adam Drewnowski explains, "If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar." We've heard this before — and obviously Whole Foods isn't the place to get the most anything for a dollar, but Drewnowski's study does throw into sharp relief the class differences involved in obesity. It's also easy to see why Whole Foods CEO John Mackey might think that heart disease and cancer can be stopped with a good dose of personal responsibility, or that it's a good idea to base an employee discount on BMI — he just doesn't have that many customers who actually have to make a choice between what's healthy and what they can afford.