Saturday, December 24, 2011

USANA and the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements - A Symbiotic Relationship

Since 1999, USANA and its distributors have used the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements written by Lyle Macwilliam as proof that their supplements are the best in the industry. Every edition of the book granted USANA supplements #1 in the industry. I also found that many USANA distributors purchased the book to use as a sales tool when trying to persuade someone to join USANA. For several years this had seemed very odd to me so I did some research. Every time I looked into it, I found more and more ties between USANA and the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Their relationship is truly symbiotic. The following are my findings.

There are 4 editions to the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. The First edition came out in 1999, Second edition in 2001, Third edition in 2003 and Fourth edition in 2007. USANA has been chosen #1 in every edition since the first edition. In fact, the first edition of the book chose USANA as the baseline to compare all other brands to.

One of the individuals listed on the book is Gregg Gies who was responsible for research, editing and layout for the Comparative Guides editions 1 through 4, was a USANA distributor #285320. I questioned Nutrisearch (Lyle Macwilliam's corporation for his books) about this and they informed me that before Gregg joined NutriSearch he purchased USANA product and at the time the only way to get the product was to sign up as a distributor (no preferred customer option). I was also told that he let the distributor lapse between ten and twelve years ago. Yet, the first edition came out in 1999, twelve years ago. It should be noted that this distributor ID achieved a leadership level of Sharer, which does not seem consistent with someone who only wanted product.

I think there is a conflict of interest here because Lyle Macwilliam basically hired a USANA distributor to perform the research for a book that ranks USANA #1 while trying to portray itself as an independent source of information regarding the nutrition industry. Gregg was also Co-Owner of NutriSearch at one point in time. Currently, he is only considered as a consultant. Although, when contacting NutriSearch, their replies to me also carbon copied Gregg at a NutriSearch email account. I'm not aware of companies giving their consultants email accounts.

Knowing that Gregg Gies was a USANA distributor around the time Lyle hired him to do research for the Comparative Guide, what do you think about the following statement made by NutriSearch?
"The research, development, and findings are the sole creative effort of the author and NutriSearch Corporation, neither of whom is associated with any manufacturer or product represented in this guide."

Another name listed on the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements is Ian Black. He is responsible for the book's cover design. He is a professional graphics artist. He is also a Silver Director USANA distributor #90155 as is his wife, who is a 1-star diamond director #43050. How is it that Lyle Macwilliam wrote a book claiming to be an independent guide to the nutrition industry that chooses USANA #1 in all four editions ends up hiring a USANA distributor to do the book's cover design?

I asked NutriSearch if anyone there is a USANA distributor. They responded by telling me no one at NutriSearch is a USANA Associate. When bringing to their attention that Gregg Gies and Ian Black are USANA associates, NutriSearch responded stating that Gregg is a consultant and Ian is not and never was "employed" at NutriSearch.

UPDATE January 4, 2014: I have discovered that there has been yet another USANA distributor working at Lyle Macwilliam's NutriSearch. Her name is Joan Baumann USANA distributor #100450. She joined NutriSearch in 2008 as a Database Administrator. It appears that my correspondent at Nutrisearch lied to me when I had asked if any USANA distributors work at Nutrisearch. Obviously there is a serious conflict of interest here.

Then there is Dr. Ray Strand. He is listed as one of the "Independent Nutritional Experts" used for the Comparative Guide's "Blended Standard". Ray Strand has been on USANA's medical advisory board since the 1990s, which isn't that big of a problem since the medical advisory board members are not paid a salary by USANA, but only stipends. However, Ray Strand and his wife were USANA distributors making hundreds of thousands of dollars off their downline. Their distributorship was called "AMARA Enterprises, Inc." This is a huge conflict of interest, especially when USANA mysteriously manages to rank #1 in every edition. During USANA's third quarter of 2011, Ray Strand has since left USANA to join a different MLM company, ARIIX. Their USANA distributorship appears to also have ended.

I questioned NutriSearch about Ray Strand's distributorship with USANA and NutriSearch's "independent nutritional expert" claim. NutriSearch stated that Ray Strand's recommended daily nutritional supplementation along with the eleven other authors used as references for the Blended Standard is published work in the public domain. So what? The problem I have is the usage of the term "Independent". To me, the term implies the twelve individuals used for the Blended Standard do not have a financial ownership with any of the companies listed in the book or financial motives on the outcome of the data represented in the book. Clearly, the fact Ray Strand was a USANA distributor even before the first edition of the book came out and the fact he contributed directly to the results presented in the Comparative Guide (USANA being #1 out of over a thousand choices) means Ray Strand is not an independent authority.

Yet, NutriSearch finished by stating that these independent nutritional experts are associated with different nutritional product lines and does not bias the scoring of any of the products listed in the Comparative Guide. I strongly disagree...

I should also point out that another one of the independent authorities used for Lyle's Blended Standard is Michael Colgan. He was also a USANA distributor in the 1990s. His distributor ID was #89201 and was listed under the account name "Colgan Institute". It is unclear when he left the USANA distributorship and it may be close to the time the first edition of the Comparative Guide was written.

Another interesting piece of evidence is that the 1st edition of the Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements (1999) appears to have been written for USANA distributors to use as a sales/recruiting tool. The following was written on Lyle's website back in 2001:

Why is the USANA graph flat, with everything at 100%?

The reason the USANA graph appears as a series of yellow bars, all set at 100%, is because this represents the comparison standard. In other words, it represents USANA compared to itself. Why did we do this? The purpose was to establish a benchmark where all products would be compared to the USANA standard - this allows your clients to clearly see how the vitamin formulation they use stacks up to the USANA formulation.
I believe Lyle Macwilliam's response to the FAQ on his old website suggests he is answering a USANA distributor's question. The "your clients" refers to the USANA distributor's prospective customer/recruit. Seems quite obvious to me the motive behind the book - to sell it to the hundreds of thousands of USANA distributors.

From an archived copy of USANA's website which sells many books related to USANA including the 2nd edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements (2001), the following is the description for the book:
Fully revised and updated - Lyle MacWilliam's Comparative Guide puts the USANA Essentials against over 250 of the most common nutritional supplements on the market today. Through his incredible research, Mr. MacWilliam shows both how and why the USANA Essentials are second to none. This best seller was updated for the USANA 2001 9th Annual International Convention and it's better than ever.
So the book was updated for USANA's convention which I believe was so it could be sold to all of the participating distributors at the event. So of course the book will rate USANA #1.

On the back cover of the 3rd edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements (2003), there are five individuals praising the book. These five members are listed as doctors and authors of their own books. What is not disclosed to the reader is that these five doctors are also USANA distributors!

Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. - USANA Distributor ID# 2040175
Dr. Gerald Lewis, M.D. FRCP, FRACP - USANA Distributor ID# 203463
Dr. Laz Bannock, Ph.D. - USANA Distributor ID# 2290764
Dr. Denis Waitley, Ph.D. - USANA Distributor ID# 70541
Dr. Christine Wood, M.D. - USANA Distributor ID# 348

So out of the thousand plus supplements presented in the book, Lyle and his team were not capable of producing anyone else to praise his book other than USANA distributors? I find this very deceiving and dishonest. USANA associates would only need to tell the person they are trying to recruit to look at the back of the book and claim that five doctors trust the book and so should you, so join my downline today (before you find out the truth).

Then there is the fact that Lyle Macwilliam was on USANA's Medical Advisory Board from 2003 to 2006, the time the fourth edition to the comparative guide was being produced. I was quite vocal about this on the Yahoo USNA stock message board (where I began sharing my research since 2006). Finally after criticizing that fact for several months, Lyle Macwilliam left USANA's medical advisory board and USANA made the following statement on their Ask Andy website (which is no longer made available for some unknown reason):

"Lyle shares his expertise as a consultant with a number of nutritional manufacturers and, for this reason, was asked to join USANA's Medical Advisory Board after the release of the third edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements in 2003. He served on the Medical Advisory Board until 2006. Lyle decided to leave the position, in part, because he felt that that it might have created an impression of bias for his work. Lyle is neither an employee of USANA Health Sciences nor an Independent USANA Associate."
So Lyle finally figured out that after 3 years of being on USANA's medical advisory board, that it created an impression of bias for the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements... Really!?

Do I need to mention that USANA received their NSF stamp only a few weeks before the fourth edition of the comparative guide came out awarding USANA the top rank again, only achievable by having a third party certification, i.e. NSF. Seems that while Lyle was on USANA's medical advisory board, information about what USANA had to do to keep #1 status was also coordinated. It was even admitted by Lyle that after the third edition, other companies adjusted their formulations and leapfrogged USANA. So how was it that USANA was able to then reformulate their product to be #1 again?

Lyle wrote the following after publishing the 4th edition: "In fact, for at least the last three years of the third edition’s run, it had been false to say USANA was ranked #1 in our research. Even though our guide still showed this product as the best in the field, other products had already eclipsed it, simply by adjusting their formulations to improve their score on our rating criteria, possibly with little or no regard for the scientific evidence supporting their changes. They simply wanted to be #1."

Yet, USANA regained that #1 position by reformulating their supplements. Lyle criticized other companies for doing reformulating their products claiming there was little or no regard for the scientific evidence supporting their changes. Gee, if that's really true, and these companies changed their formulation to be closer to this "Blended Standard", and Lyle calls that reformulation a change with no regard for scientific evidence supporting their changes, then shouldn't the same be said about the Blended Standard? Seems very hypocritical to me.

Lyle Macwilliam claimed the following regarding USANA and the Physicians Desk Reference:
"USANA nutritional products are listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference, one of a select few nutritional supplement manuacturers to merit such high recognition of product quality." - FAQ
What Lyle does not understand is that the PDR does not endorse nor offer any type of credibility for the products listed in their book. In fact, all the products listed are paid advertisements. USANA had to pay a fee to have their products listed and USANA got to chose which book to listed it in (PDR for drugs or the PDR for Herbs & Supplements). USANA chose the book for drugs. Then USANA claims their supplements are better than the rest of the vitamins because they are listed in the PDR for Drugs. Because of Lyle Macwilliam's lack of understanding regarding the PDR, he decided to repeat the same nonsense USANA did. So much for any real research. But of course the research for the Comparative Guide was done by a USANA distributor (Gregg Gies).

In Conclusion: I believe Lyle Macwilliam chose USANA to be #1 in his book from the very beginning back in 1999.  Lyle hired a USANA distributor "Gregg Gies" to do research for his book. For the past 12 years, USANA has remained #1 in every edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Yet, USANA spends less than 1% of their net revenue on Research & Development (incredible if you ask me). Why research when the author of the Comparative Guide is on your medical advisory board. From the research I have done, I believe there is a symbiotic relationship between USANA and NutriSearch where one is dependent on the other. USANA's main source of praise for their product is the Comparative Guide. I have no doubt the main source of Lyle Macwilliam's sales comes from USANA distributors themselves. If one looks back at the way Lyle sold his Comparative Guide, he did so priced as bulk purchases.

According to 9 years ago regarding their 2nd edition:
1-9 books    $15.95 per copy
10+ books    $14.95 per copy
25+ books    $13.95 per copy
50+ books    $12.95 per copy

And where can you get a copy of the book? Lyle suggests buying from him directly or from USANA's website "" which was a site used to sell sales tools and other books to USANA distributors. This book was intended to be sold to USANA distributors as a sales aid. Any time a USANA distributor recruits somebody into their downline, you can be almost certain that the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements was used to claim USANA was #1 in the industry. Lyle also appears at just about every USANA event as a key speaker. I would like to know what other vitamin manufacturers Lyle is a key speaker for.