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A Dietitian's Thoughts on MLM Approach to Nutrition

by Kim Lovely, Dietitian on Monday, March 20, 2017

Guest blogger Kim Lovely Dietician.

Kim Lovely, MPH RD LD;  is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Kim received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition at Mount St Vincent University, completed a Clinical Residency at the University of Toronto and a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition at the University of Michigan
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by Kim Lovely

A healthy diet is one that consistently provides the body with the essential nutrients it needs to be well. That “diet” includes enough fluid, protein, healthy fats, whole grain carbohydrates and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)  to fully function at its best the majority of the time. Food is the best source of nutrition. Research is conflicted as to where the best sources of nutrients are but one thing in common is that nutrients do not act in isolation. For example; good bone health is dependent upon more than calcium.  Evidence from  The  Nurses Health Study- among the largest investigations ever into the risk factors for chronic diseases in women- shows that eating a serving of leafy greens or green vegetable daily cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared to those nurses who ate leafy greens or green vegetables only weekly. A healthy serving of leafy greens or green vegetables such as broccoli, kale or Brussels sprouts provides the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K. Low levels of Vitamin K are linked with low bone density. Low bone density is linked with osteoporosis. The bottom line is that a sustainable healthy “diet” is one that provides all the vital nutrients and these are found scattered among all the food groups. Whole unprocessed carbohydrates protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. A “diet” that eliminates food groups for the purpose of weight loss cannot be defined as healthy. Likewise, any diet that reduces calories enough to impact normal activity imposes a stress on the body that will slow down metabolism guaranteeing that weight will be regained unless the diet is sustained FOREVER.

A healthy weight loss plan is one that promotes slow weight loss, minimizes the loss of lean muscle, includes all food groups providing the opportunity to consume all essential and vital nutrients,  and enough calories to continue with all the activities of daily living in including vigorous exercise.


I have not explored all the “diets”, diet products or food plans that are being suggested by multilevel marketing but from what I have observed here are the features in common.

  1. They promote fast, effortless easy success.
  2. They suggest that no exercise is needed
  3. Money must be paid
  4. The fine print indicates incredibly low success rates
  5. There is no long-term evidence of success
  6. There is a lawsuit in progress for most.

Let’s explore the above using common sense and then look at why common sense may be ignored in favor of a “quick fix”.

  1. No success ever comes without effort- in anything. Period.
  2. Exercise is not needed. Is this code for Exercise is not possible because the calories are only sufficient for the basics of life- organ function? Any kind of diet will cause loss of body mass- both fat and muscle. The only way to lessen the loss of muscle is to use it, stress it and make it grow- that is STRENGTH TRAINING- not sitting on your sofa.
  3. The fine print is not “sexy” that’s why its fine print. But it tells the full story and its surely not going to be part of the marketing effort. Bad stats does not promote sales.
  4. There is no long-term evidence of success because there is no long-term data that is not biased. Any data that a company provides as part of its marketing is biased. It is skewed to sell the product.
  5. Bad things can happen when practices whose intention is to make money are purchased by vulnerable people. In all areas of life, it's called fraud.  A car salesperson is a salesperson. What is the problem with her managing the sale of your home?  She knows sales after all.  Your PCP has a gained knowledge about anesthesia during her training.  She should be safe to have responsibility for anesthesia during your loved one’s bypass surgery, shouldn’t she?

Of course, the answer to both of the above questions should be no. Our common sense tells us that a real estate agent is not the same as a car salesperson and that anesthesia is a specialty of medicine that requires much more education beyond medical school and it's critical in keeping someone alive during surgery.

SO WHY  WHY WHY do we put the most important thing we have, OUR HUMAN FORM, into the hands of someone whose intention is to earn money off of us. Their knowledge of nutrition, food science, health, medicine, supplementation could be limited to that which they learned during their company-sponsored sales training.

My theory is that we are vulnerable to things that promise to “fix” us. We are tired of feeling bad about ourselves and we want to feel better, quickly but why is it that we do we feel bad enough that we are willing to hand over our money, trust, and health. Again, we need to remember that these programs sole agenda is making money and they make the most money by bringing as many people as possible into the fold.

These companies are legitimate and for the time being legal. And they are powerful. My hope is that when you feel the inclination to “buy” into one of these practices that you stop and think first. Use the same common sense you apply to purchasing a home or deciding on medical care.  Look beyond the smoke and mirrors, the sexy language, the parts that elicit your vulnerability. Nothing that is sustainable comes easily or quickly. If you are 30 pounds overweight, you did not gain that 30 lbs. in a month or two. You likely gained it over time.  Allow your body the courtesy of taking the time it needs to lose the weight slowly and safely and it will repay you 100 fold. Dedicate yourself to eat well and exercise almost every day of the week. When seeking guidance about your health and well being choose people who are educated in the area for which you are seeking help. A marketing expert is not a credentialed Nutrition or Fitness Professional.

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