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Is Optavia an MLM or a Pyramid Scheme?

Companies in the health and wellness niche like Kyani and Team Beachbody that I’ve done a review of during the past few weeks are well-known because of their widely used dietary supplements and programs. Another company named Optavia has been added to the list of this saturated market. How do they differ and how will they make a name for themselves against these big guns in the industry?

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Optavia was founded in 2016 but there is a history behind this company. It was once called Take Shape for Life, a subsidiary company of Medifast way back 2002. Medifast was founded by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen and Bradley MacDonald (not connected with the famous fast food chain to be clear) and their products have been recommended by more than 20,000 doctors since 1980, so they say. Optavia and Medifast’s current CEO is Daniel Chard.

They claim that their products are backed by science and research but at the same time claiming that their products are designed to be nutrient-dense, portion-controlled and free of  “artificial” colors, flavors and sweeteners. Isn’t the two points a little bit contradicting each other? Isn’t it because the products are backed by science and research means that they’re artificially made and not all natural? I’m sorry if I made the wrong assumption but that’s how I think it is.

Well, let’s just leave it at that and look at what they have to offer. Surprisingly, upon reading about the company, I found out that instead of supplements that we often see in some companies of this niche, Optavia is offering meal replacement kits – yes, actual food that apparently can replace your daily meals and help you lose weight in the process. When you look at their website, they also offer protein bars and shakes, smoothies and other tasty looking foods that are engineered to help you with your weight loss journey.

Some of these foods are cereals, cakes, pancakes etc., which does really look appetizing and are known to cause weight gain when digested but their products do otherwise. Their mission is to help people achieve lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time, that’s why they also introduced the program called Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan. It is a program in which you will eat their meal replacement kits 5x + 1 lean & green meal a day that is suggestively can help you drop a significant amount of weight.

I do feel positive about this company since they’re not like the others that promise instant weight loss in a period of time when you try to take their dietary supplements. They do not offer starvation diets, instead, when you buy their products and enroll in their program, your distributor becomes your health coach that can assist you on the proper ways of losing weight together with a community enrolled in the same program.

If you want to become a distributor and a health coach in order to help other people achieve their weight goals, you need to buy an Optavia Business Kit that costs $199. It includes business tools, plan information and a 12-month access to your personalized website that can help you keep track and manage your business. This is so far pretty much the same as any other MLM companies out there.

They offer retail commissions of 15% as the base percentage and can go up to 28% based on your generated product volume sales. In line with this, they have a consistency bonus in which you need to maintain a certain amount of PV for 3 consecutive months in order to get that bonus. They have a total of 15 affiliate ranks and their residual commission is based on a unilevel structure. Basically, in order to get more commissions and bonuses, you need to recruit more to build your downline, at the same time climbing up in ranks.

Lawsuits and allegations are not rare in this type of setup. In 2012, another subsidiary of Medifast, Jason Pharmaceuticals, who are the creator of what Optavia’s selling right now, the Fueling meals, paid a settlement fee of $3.7 million due to deceptive advertising. The FTC said that they violated the 1992 FTC settlement agreement by making unsupported claims to its weight loss programs. This can be considered a red flag if you’re already in the radar of the FTC itself.

To sum it up, Optavia is not a scam. It is an MLM company that offers replacement meal kits that apparently help oneself with weight loss but I don’t really recommend you joining these kinds of companies. One thing is for sure, they’re already in the radar of the FTC, which can add difficulty in finding customers. Another factor is that their products are more expensive than those bought in convenience stores which are comparable if not better. And one last thing, almost 99% of all MLM participants lose money, according to the FTC.

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