As Americans battle a health care and hunger crisis during COVID-19 with millions of jobless Americans without health insurance, the Amazon-owned company is being slammed by critics after Mackey’s comments on Freakonomics Radio surfaced.
“I mean, honestly, we talk about health care. The best solution is not to need health care,” Mackey said in the Nov. 4 interview with host Steven Dubner that went viral on Tuesday, CNBC first reported.
“The best solution is to change the way people eat, the way they live, the lifestyle, and diet. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be healthy and have a longer healthspan. A bunch of drugs is not going to solve the problem,” he continued.
Mackey, 67, also said in the interview that 71% of Americans are overweight and that 42.5% are obese, claiming: “Clearly, we’re making bad choices in the way we eat. It’s not a sustainable path. And so, I’m calling it out.”
The commentary was met with a wave of criticism on social media Tuesday with people calling his responses tone-deaf as millions of Americans are left without health care and as food banks struggle to keep up with unprecedented demand.
“Wealthy ceos making these broad sweeping statements while refusing to acknowledge how most Americans are simply unable to live these “lolll im healthy bc i eat and sleep well” lifestyles is so tone deaf. please leave it in 2020,” one critic scoffed on Twitter.
Another wrote: “Does this apply to the hundreds of team members who have gotten covid while working at Whole Foods? Do they not need healthcare, Johnny?” one user remarked on Twitter.
Others noted Mackey’s disregard for those suffering from mental health conditions.
“Whole foods guy say we need to eat better instead of having Healthcare, excuse me while I get prescribed carrots for my depression,” another user posted on Twitter.
The comments come as more Americans rely on food banks as a result of job losses spurred by the pandemic. Indeed, more than 50 million people and more than 17 million children living in the U.S. were projected to be food insured by the end of 2020, according to the nonprofit organization Feeding America.
Whole Foods did not immediately return a Fox News request for comment regarding the backlash and if the grocer had plans to help make food more accessible to lower-income Americans.
It’s not the first time Mackey has been outspoken about health care. He penned an editorial for the Wall Street Journal in 2009 titled “The Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare” arguing against the Affordable Care Act, stating that Americans’ health issues could be avoided if individuals made healthier lifestyle choices.
Whole Foods came under fire in March when some of its employees staged a walkout, demanding workplace safety, benefits including sick pay and hazard pay during the coronavirus pandemic and claiming there wasn’t enough personal protective equipment, potentially exposing them to COVID-19.