More than 45 million people are using Noom—a psychology-based health app for weight loss. But before you follow the crowds, let’s look at whether this app is the answer we’ve all been waiting for or just the current trend.
As a Registered Dietitian, I’ll be reviewing Noom from a science-backed lens, looking at the strategies they use to stimulate weight loss.
Noom is a mobile app that guides people through a curriculum for weight loss. On the app, you can read articles, take quizzes, log your food and water intake, and track your step count and weight.
Noom isn’t new. It actually debuted in 2008 as a simple fitness and calorie tracker. In 2016, the app added a psychology and behavioral component, user support groups, and personal coaches.
Their psychological approach aims to get to the root of weight loss struggles. Their app guides users through short articles and quizzes to help them examine eating behaviors, manage emotions related to food, practice accountability, and make lifestyle changes to help with weight loss.
Noom guides its users through 10 mini-courses over 16 weeks. These mini-courses require you to read several short articles a day that cover topics like food triggers, grocery store tips, and portion control.
A few days into the program, a goal coach will begin reaching out twice a week for check-ins and motivational messages. Then you’ll be assigned a group coach and a peer group where you can chat with other Noomers.
Based on your info and goals, Noom will give you a daily calorie budget. You’ll learn how to tell the difference between foods with a low caloric density and a high caloric density using a simple color-coded system. Foods in the “green” category have low caloric density. Foods in the “yellow” category have mid-level caloric density. Foods in the “orange” category have the highest caloric density.
Noom asks users to commit to working through their mini-courses, logging their food, and weighing themselves every day. After completing these three daily tasks, Noom gives one “Noomcoin” as a reward. You can’t buy anything with Noomcoins, but the app estimates that “Noomers lose one pound for every five Noomcoins they earn.”
Noom’s heavy focus on psychology and behavior could be helpful to people who are looking for answers to questions like, What triggers me to eat food when I’m not hungry? Its educational and coaching features could also help people who perform best with external motivation.
Noom gets a number of things right! We agree on a few important points:
While Noom focuses on behavior, it misses big truths about how our bodies and weight loss work. Here are some critical issues with Noom’s antiquated weight loss strategies:
A closer look at the app shows an antiquated weight loss strategy: Just eat low calories and you’ll lose weight. While focusing on the mental game of weight loss, Noom seems to miss that healthy weight loss requires more than a low-calorie diet and mental endurance. In my opinion, and after 20 years in the weight loss industry, skimping on calories isn’t sustainable, no matter how much motivation you have.
To learn how to lose weight sustainably and safely, join my program LEAN. Over 74,000 people have learned how to lose weight and live healthier lives for themselves and their families.