Whole Foods Launches ‘Health Starts Here’ Initiative

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 21 — To help shoppers and Team Members who want to improve their health easily and naturally, Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), a leader in natural and organic foods, announced today that it has launched its “Health Starts Here” initiative at all 289 locations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We opened our first store 30 years ago to provide natural foods as a delicious and healthy alternative to the increasing amounts of highly processed foods with artificial ingredients,” says Margaret Wittenberg, global vice president of quality standards and leader of Health Starts Here at Whole Foods Market. “Over the years, we realized that providing the healthiest foods available is simply not enough. We are now deepening our commitment to healthy eating by providing education and support tools to inspire interest in foods that help improve and maintain health and vitality.”

Health Starts Here is the first major program to be launched since Whole Foods Market added a new core value to its mission in October 2009: “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.” The new program is based on these simple principles for everyday healthy eating:

Plant-based Focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Get healthy fats in moderation from fresh plant sources such as nuts and avocados.

Nutrient-dense Eat foods with high nutrient content in comparison to total calories. Build menus around plant-based foods to emphasize nutrient-rich meals containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. These foods are naturally lower in fat.

Whole foods Choose foods that are real, fresh and natural. When possible, opt for food that is organic, local and seasonal. Avoid highly processed and refined foods, and those with artificial ingredients.

Healthy Eating Partners

Whole Foods Market is featuring two unique third-party healthy eating partner programs to provide easy-to-follow guidance for shoppers and Team Members. Both offer 28-day “getting started” plans while providing plenty of room for personal choices to help those who are interested in starting on their own journey down the road to optimum health.

Eat Right America’s Chief Medical Officer, Joel Fuhrman, M.D., has discovered through years of research on thousands of patients that a body rich in micronutrients will quickly seek its ideal weight and stay there, while reversing most diet-related chronic conditions. He has also equipped patients with eating plans to help improve their overall health, conquer food cravings, reverse chronic conditions and have more energy. The secrets of superior nutrition, along with many menus and delicious recipes, are offered in a series of books, including “Eat for Health,” as well as audio CDs and DVDs. Also available at Whole Foods Market, or online at www.eatrightamerica.com/wfm, is Eat Right America’s personalized nutritional assessment tool, called “Nutrition Prescription,” which offers individual nutrition and health assessments combined with personalized eating plans.

The Engine 2 Diet is a plant-strong plan that can help with weight loss, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of disease. Rip Esselstyn, former pro athlete and firefighter, outlines the plan in his “Engine 2 Diet” book and has always taken great interest in achieving optimal health through food. In his book, he combines the wisdom of some of his medical heroes including his father, the renowned heart specialist, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn with the real-life account of Rip helping his former firehouse colleagues change their health for the better by eating differently. The book can be purchased at all Whole Foods Market stores. More information can be found at www.engine2academy.com.

In-Store Education

Whole Foods Market will feature free information, recipes, in-store lectures, events and support groups. A selection of supporting educational books and cookbooks will also be for sale alongside the “Engine 2 Diet” book and “Eat Right America” program materials. To help shoppers identify healthy, nutrient-dense foods, stores will post signs with Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores. Created by Dr. Fuhrman, ANDI scoring scale evaluates levels of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants per calorie in various foods. The higher the concentration of micronutrients in a food, the higher that food will score. For instance, a serving of kale, a dark leafy green, scores 1,000, placing it at the top of the index, while a serving of soda only scores 1.

“We are excited to promote wellness and encourage healthier lifestyles by emphasizing the value of eating nutrient-rich foods and showing people how simple it can be, no matter what dietary path you follow. I like to think of it as ‘Take charge, eat well, feel great,’ as eating for health can truly be delicious, nutritious and enjoyable,” says Wittenberg.

Team Member Support and Incentives

To reiterate the company’s commitment to its newest core value and its long-time “Supporting Team Member happiness and excellence” core value, Whole Foods Market’s Health Starts Here initiative also includes two internal programs for Team


The Team Member Healthy Discount Incentive offers increased discounts for full- and part-time Team Members (enrolled in the company’s medical plan) who do not use nicotine products and satisfy certain healthy biometric criteria for blood pressure, total cholesterol (or LDL) levels and Body Mass Index (BMI). Team Members already receive a 20 percent discount on purchases at Whole Foods Market stores as an employment benefit, but now, those who voluntarily opt to participate in the incentive plan could receive up to an additional 10 percent discount.

The Total Health Immersion Program offers Team Members intensive health and wellness education programs geared toward sustaining long-term, positive lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, fitness and empowerment. There will be two rounds of immersion programs offered annually at three different locations in the United States. Participating in the immersion program will allow Team Members, who qualify and who are ready to take charge of their own health, to receive more direct support in making positive lifestyle and dietary changes under the guidance of a medical professional, and at no cost to them.

Shoppers can expect to see information in some stores immediately, while other locations will incorporate this initiative throughout 2010.

Source: Whole Foods Market