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Ha! ….no

Unfortunately, Project 10 Kids seems to have gone viral and is now popping up on various social media feeds. You may have even seen your friends blasting this nonsense: “I’ve lost 4 lbs in one week! I love my new shakes. PM me for details!!!” weeeeeee!

The idea behind this program is to give overweight or obese children 30 ViSalus meal-replacement shakes when a ViSalus distributor or customer loses 10 pounds or gains 10 pounds of muscle.

This is a very classic (disgusting, and gag-inducing) MLM charity scam. It’s designed to make people feel good through self-licensing, so that they continue to stay in the scam, paying month after month. Simply put, when people believe they’ve engaged in a good deed (ie: helping poor, fat kids) they feel a sense of self-righteousness, pride, and satisfaction. With that satisfaction comes license to continue engaging in a not-so-good deed: in this example, promoting a money-hungry monster like ViSalus.

What is ViSalus (or Body by Vi)?

It is a multi-level marketing (MLM) supplement company. Other MLM companies include JuicePlus, Omni, TruVision, Dotera, Nu Skin, and (the more popular scams) Amway, and Herbalife.

ViSalus is not unique by design, it’s the same old diet and get-rich-quick scheme you’ll find AdvoCare or Isagenix peddling. Their message is just slightly tweaked…

The biggest threat to our health, and the health of future generations, is hiding in the shadows. It’s time to face it. ViSalus leads the way, providing a platform for people to come together and fight obesity head-on.

What is Project 10 Kids?

From their website:

When you submit your PROJECT 10 results (either lose 10 lbs. or add 10 lbs. of lean muscle), ViSalus will donate 30 Vi-Shape® Nutritional Shake meals to a child in need, through PROJECT 10 Kids. That’s a whole month of nutritious breakfast, lunch or snack options that will put an at-risk, overweight or obese child on the path to a healthier life. When you lose, they win.

What’s in those “nutritional shake meals”, anyway?

The kid-size shakes are half the size of the adult shakes, so they are 45 calories, 3g Carbs, and a whopping 6g of protein. There is nothing special about the ingredients: a blend of soy protein (a cheaper ingredient than whey) and a multivitamin. And it costs ViSalus about 25⊄ to manufacture said “nutritional shake”. This means, they are donating around $7.50/month to each overweight or obese child they’ve determined to “help”.

So, each fat child is given $7.50 worth of product when a customer or distributor loses 10# of fat, or gains 10# of muscle using ViSalus’ own program. How much might this cost a customer? Well, depends on how much product you buy. The price per serving of the ViSalus Vi-Shape mix is $1.50 x 2 shakes a day x 30 days = $90.00 per month, and $1,080 yearly. A “transformation weight loss” 30-day kit will run you approximately $325.00. And so, on and so forth…

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Let me get this straight…

When you submit your PROJECT 10 results (either lose 10 lbs. or add 10 lbs. of lean muscle), ViSalus will donate 7 dollars of nutritionally bereft shakes to a child in need who is fat. That’s a whole month of nutritious breakfast, lunch or 45-calorie snack options that will put an at-risk, overweight or obese child on the path to a healthier life hunger. When you lose pay us lots of money, they win we win.

Let’s meet some of the good stewards of Project 10 Kids

Well, they’re right about one thing: the biggest threat to our health, and the health of future generations is hiding in the shadows. But it aint the so-called obesity epidemic.

In the above video, we meet Deb and Luke Pennucci, humble servants and 5 Star Ambassadors of ViSalus (meaning they are high up in the pyramid, and generating approx. $250,000 every 2 years in sales) in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In effort to cast a wider sales net, they describe how they “found a local church” in NC that had been distributing meals from the food bank to families in need. Deb and Luke observed in disgust that the boxes going out to families in need included lots of “carbs and fats, pasta and potato meals that really fill a family up” but very little protein or vegetables. And they smelled a lucrative opportunity.

“So many of them are just really in need of nutrition, and struggle with being overweight. So this was a really great opportunity to enhance the program..”

So, they partnered with this NC church to offer low-income families ViSalus Meal-Replacement Shakes in place of their free food bank meals.

Uh huh.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you of two things:

1. The kids “nutrition shakes” contain 45 calories, and 6 measly grams of protein. So, substituting their food bank meals for this crap is mind-blowingly idiotic.

2. Just what ViSalus is actually about. This is a video of the very same Luke Pennucci dancing on stage to a song bumping “it’s the good life”. He gives a truly inspirational speech (I mean people are on their feet cheering) about helping poor families eat better earning 150K in 30 days with ViSalus.

One might wonder, if Luke is rolling in all that dough and feels called to give back to the community, then why not just donate some nutritious foods to the food bank, or to the church, or directly to those families in need? The answer you’re searching for is: because that is not as lucrative as hooking vulnerable families into your MLM business. And if it’s not financially lucrative to help someone, what’s the point?

It boils down to simple math, folks: local families in poverty + give them a free 30 day trial of weight loss shakes in place of their food bank meals = a great way to secure potential income for the near future. Plus, it makes for a great PR campaign about fighting obesity, and it helps rope in more folks who are vulnerable to weight-shame campaigns and might be willing to pay a hefty price for the “promise” of thinness.

serious gag-reflex.

Join the Project 10 Kids challenge today, and you can…

Begin your next diet AND fight obesity by helping fat kids lose weight!

Except, these are completely incongruous ideas.

Long term research (over 5+ years) has NEVER once demonstrated the long-term effectiveness of dieting or attempts at weight loss. 95% of participants regain the lost weight. In fact, long-term research also shows that restricting your intake to lose weight actually causes weight gain and increased waist circumference! 2/3’s of dieters will regain more weight then they originally lost.

Now, if that doesn’t sound like a solution to obesity way to make money – I don’t know what does!

Folks – if you desperately desire to gain weight and mess up your body’s metabolism, GO on a diet.

Prevent these poor, fat kids from being bullied!

Children being bullied for their weight is SO wrong. The solution is to tell our children to lose weight so they can avoid being bullied.

WAIT…!!!

In WHAT other situation of oppression, bullying, stigma and discrimination do we ask the oppressed group to change themselves to avoid violence? Race, religion, ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation, sexual violence, …height? How is oppression for body size any different?

For just a minute, put aside in your mind the association between weight and health. REGARDLESS of whether a fat child is healthy or not, do they deserve to be bullied? Is the onus on the child? Is bullying the fault of the child?

NO. Then why aren’t we tackling the issue at hand, which is that kids feel it’s completely okay to name-call, cajole, harass and bully a fatter child. And just where are they learning that it’s okay to harass another human being for their body size? In their own homes, on the playground, and from Anti-Obesity campaigns just like this one.

Help young kids begin their journey to…

yo-yo dieting and disordered eating. Research supports a strong and indisputable connection between dieting (or weight loss attempts) and eating disorder development:

  • A study of 14-15 year old adolescent girls who engaged in strict dieting behaviors were 18x more likely than their non-dieting peers to develop an eating disorder within six months
  • Parental conversations with teens focused on weight produced more dieting/weight control behaviors, as well as binge eating
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders
  • 81% of 10 year-olds are afraid of being fat
  • Childhood obesity has tripled since the ‘80s when America first called out its “War Against Obesity”
  • Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting

I could go on…

And enhance your business

You too can profit off of bullying, cultural stigma, vulnerability, eating disorders, and give “the promise of hope” (in a shake) to those who literally cannot afford it, and who will literally not improve their health long-term as a result of it.

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Questions you may be asking yourself right now:

What’s the harm in buying ViSalus products? After all, it’s my prerogative, it’s my body, and I happen to like them!

As Anna Lappe put it, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” When you give money to ViSalus, you’re voting for the kind of world they represent: money at the cost of others.

But we need to get those fat kids to lose weight!

We do not have a proven, effective, or healthy way to guarantee people long term weight loss. Examine the research. What we DO know, is that with competent eating, physical activity, stress reduction and body-acceptance, people can and do improve their health long-term independent of weight loss. We also know that dieting is futile, harmful to health, and contributes to the development of eating disorders. Yes, there are fat people in this world. No, dieting is not the answer.

You mean, there are fat people in this world who are healthy?

Yep. Same as there are thin people in this world who are unhealthy. Body size is not an indicator of health. Oodles of research supports this. (See the resource page).

But my aunt lost weight on ViSalus and kept it off! I thought you said diets are harmful and don’t work?

For 95% of people, diets do not effectively keep weight off long term. That’s most of us. And MORE IMPORTANTLY, weight loss doesn’t tell us anything about a person’s physical health, mental health, emotional health, etc. We don’t know if the person is actually experiencing improved health, or not? Disordered eating? Fear and rigidity around food? Shame about their body?

Again, there is no research out there showing long term health improvement, or increased morbidity and mortality rates as a result of dieting. The opposite tends to occur: health improvements (lowered blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides, etc.) might be maintained at one year out, which is when most trials end. But carry out the trial for 2-5+ years, and you will find that health improvements are NOT sustained, nor is weight loss.

Want to read more? Check out {this} post on the futility of dieting, and {this} post on a balanced way of eating.

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