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Noom Reviews: Long-term weight loss through behavioral change?

Our experts test Noom and assess the science behind its weight loss program

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Poonam Merai, MD
Last Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Noom reviews

According to the CDC, more than 40 percent of American adults are obese. As the Mayo Clinic points out, obesity has a significant impact on health, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and many other dangerous health conditions.

Many people who have tried to lose weight know it isn’t easy to accomplish. Several factors influence eating behaviors including psychological roadblocks like stress, anxiety, and boredom. Health professionals emphasize that learning to make mindful, healthy decisions is the key to controlling weight gain over the long term.

That’s where Noom comes in. Noom was designed to help people lose weight by analyzing the thoughts and actions behind their negative habits. In this way, the company wants to help you change your relationship with food. Does Noom succeed? We’ve thoroughly tested Noom’s services – find out if you should give it a try.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Uses a psychology-based approach to help users achieve optimal health
  • 16-week course helps you identify habits and learn how to break them
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Easy-to-use app with food and exercise tracking
  • The first virtual program recognized as a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) by the CDC
  • Daily motivational curriculum
  • Add-on meal and exercise plans available
  • Discounted pricing and free trials are available regularly

Cons

  • Noom could make it easier to cancel
  • The free trial opportunity isn’t always available

Bottom line

We’re impressed by Noom, which takes a different approach than other popular weight loss programs. By incorporating the science of psychology to help you identify the reasons behind your unhealthy habits, Noom gives you the tools you need to make real lifestyle changes that alter the way you think about food and exercise for positive, long-term effect. Though it isn’t perfect, Noom offers something that, in its own quiet way, is much more dramatic than other programs. Noom wants to help you reprogram yourself when it comes to food and fitness. If you give it a few months, we believe you’ll find Noom helping you succeed.

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Noom

While other weight loss programs offer quick solutions with temporary results, Noom aims for enduring success by changing how you think about food. And it works.

Noom isn’t perfect, but it offers a special opportunity to invest a small amount of time of each day to become more mindful of your choices and your relationship with food. By driving at the core of weight issues, Noom makes itself truly valuable and a worthwhile investment.

Why you should trust us

Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

This review, like all medical-related content on this website, is thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each health-related service we review. We evaluate the entire customer experience from signing up to the use of the product or service, and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.

How does Noom work?

Noom is a weight loss and wellness program centered on a 16-week course. It’s designed using psychological tactics that help you identify and change the bad habits surrounding your weight issues. For those who choose to continue beyond 16 weeks, Noom includes a useful post-core curriculum. The material helps you identify patterns, thoughts, and behaviors that may be getting in your way.

Every day, Noom delivers a short set of articles focused on the theme of the particular week, along with interactive challenges designed to help you stay motivated and engaged. Meanwhile, the app tracks daily weights, food intake, calories, daily exercise, and daily steps. Daily weigh-ins and food logging are central to the service and happen to be healthy practices when your goal is improving weight or fitness.

We found that Noom’s program requires an active commitment of about 10-15 minutes per day. The service isn’t too big of a burden for even the busiest people to incorporate it into their routine. In fact, if you have a smart scale, you can feed your daily measurement automatically into Noom’s program, saving a little time each day.

With Noom, you’re also not striving to lose weight and get healthier all by yourself. You’ll get a one-on-one goal coach, as well as a virtual group and group leader to support you along the way.

Does Noom protect your privacy?

Noom takes your privacy seriously and uses TLS encryption to protect your data. Noom does upload the data from your app to its servers to give coaches access to your information, in order for them to provide good service. This includes weigh-ins, exercises, and logged meals.

How much does Noom cost?

The cost of Noom depends on how many months you choose in your subscription. The longer your subscription, the more you save.

  • A monthly auto-recurring plan is $59 a month.
  • The 3-month auto-recurring plan is discounted to $129, which equates to $43 per month.
  • An eight-month plan is discounted from $480 to $179 (roughly equating to $23 per month).
  • When purchasing an annual auto-recurring plan, you’ll make one payment of $199, bringing your effective per-month cost to only $16.59.

Noom’s pricing is a little difficult to nail down because of frequent discount opportunities. The company often offers a two-week free trial. Noom tells you up-front that each free trial costs the company about $18. There is an option to contribute a donation to help offset this cost. If you feel like doing so, you can choose to pay as little as $3, but the free option is also available.

You can cancel at any time during the trial period, but we believe Noom could make the process more straightforward. To cancel, you have to send a message to your goal specialist or the robotic assistant through the app. Then they will send you a link to cancel. This seems unnecessarily complicated. Deleting the app from your phone does not cancel your plan.

Noom is also very clear about not offering refunds. Your subscription automatically renews at the end of your billing cycle. If you forget to cancel, you have to wait until the end of the next billing cycle to do so.

This is also true when taking advantage of the free trial period; pay close attention to the billing details when signing up. You have to provide credit card information at this time, even when choosing the free option. Make note of the billing dates that are clearly laid out from the beginning because, if you choose to cancel after the trial period but mistake the dates, you’ll be automatically charged.

HSA, FSA, and health insurance

Noom does not have an official policy concerning these forms of payment. In certain situations, the IRS may allow you to use your FSA or HSA to pay for Noom, but this usually requires a letter of medical necessity from your physician. Some health insurance providers may cover weight loss programs like Noom, but, again, only when deemed medically necessary by your doctor. Check with your insurance company to be sure.

Noom's personalized weight loss plan

Noom’s main product is its personalized weight loss plan, which Noom customizes to you based on your answers in the initial screening questionnaire. Your answers help Noom provide you with an expected date for hitting your target weight as well as some insight into how you think and communicate.

The plan includes exercise tracking and food tracking features, as well as access to weight loss coaches and daily curriculum. As mentioned above, this is a monthly membership, the cost of which depends on how many months you sign up for. You also have the option to purchase add-ons at an additional cost.

Food and calorie tracking

When it comes to tracking, Noom uses a color-coded system to help you balance your calorie intake. A red, yellow, and green classification system makes you think about what you’re eating. You may question whether or not you want to use so many of your daily calories on red labeled foods when green foods are much healthier.

  • Green foods consist mostly of fruits and veggies, while yellow foods include those that aren’t as nutrient-dense.
  • Lean meat, low-fat milk, and grains like couscous and quinoa are all examples of yellow foods.
  • Red foods are those that you should eat sparingly, such as bacon, salami, fries, and sugary treats.

Exercise tracking

The Noom app also tracks your exercise and then accounts for the calories burned in your daily total. In this respect, it’s similar to other calorie trackers like MyFitnessPal, though the color-coded food system gives the Noom tracker an edge over the competition.

Noom’s system is a little more restrictive than the points system used by Weight Watchers/WW. Technically, nothing is off-limits with Noom, just as with WW. But because WW has a list of “free” foods you can eat, meal planning is a bit easier. Though Noom is rapidly gaining popularity, its database isn’t as large as WW’s. There are also some errors, particularly when using the barcode scanner. That said, the tracking part of the app is very sleek and easy to use compared to some of the other free trackers available.

Diabetes prevention program

Noom excels in integrating diabetes management. It syncs with iHealth Gluco-Smart to help you keep track of your blood sugar levels throughout the day. You can also input them manually. Noom can help you monitor your blood pressure as well.

Noom focuses on using a “universally healthy diet” to help users make important lifestyle changes for managing diabetes. It also provides educational resources for teaching the importance of good nutrition and how this plays an important role in the long-term successful management of diabetes. Noom is the first virtual program recognized as a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) by the CDC.

Coaches and community

When you sign up with Noom, a goal coach is assigned to you. They work with you on a one-on-one basis. You are also assigned to a group coach who leads you and your group in discussions and offers regular motivation. Groups are useful for meeting other people using the Noom program and can be a great way to stay motivated. They offer tips and support, but you must actively participate to benefit from them.

Your one-on-one goal coach checks in on your progress every week or so, asking if you have any specific goals you want to work on. Some users find that the coaches can be unresponsive at times or offer unrewarding or robotic interactions, but in our testing, this wasn’t the case.

Daily curriculum

Noom provides daily lessons designed to help you identify your mindset toward food and change that mindset, as needed, to allow you to lose weight. These lessons are created by a specialized team with a background in psychology, nutrition, exercise science, and medicine. The lessons themselves are based on behavioral psychology and boast a simple, easy-to-understand presentation.

What gives Noom an edge is the daily curriculum focused on changing your behaviors. The curriculum focuses on the science behind weight loss and the idea that it’s crucial for you to change how you think about food. As a company, Noom tries to make the process more enjoyable, and the daily curriculum is clear evidence of that.

Add-ons

In addition to Noom’s core program, the company offers add-ons some users may want to purchase. Add-ons include:

  • Custom workout plans
  • Custom two-week meal plans
  • Weight loss DNA testing

These add-ons strike us as interesting directions that Noom might further develop in order to improve their impact and efficacy. Right now, for instance, the meal plans don’t seem as personalized as needed in order to achieve their desired benefit. For the moment, Noom’s big contribution is its core service, which we recommend.

Getting started with Noom

You can sign up for Noom through its website or app, which is available for iPhone and Android. It’s easy to get started.

Step 1: Questionnaire

When you do, you will fill out the questionnaire that asks general information like your age, gender, current weight, and goal weight. The questionnaire also includes other relevant questions focused on your current habits, health concerns, factors that have contributed to your weight gain, and other weight loss programs you’ve tried in the past.

Step 2: Review your proposed plan

Noom uses this information to put together a customized plan. It asks for your email address at the end of the questionnaire. Once you provide this information, you get an estimate as to how long it will take you to meet your goal weight.

Step 3: Subscribe

At this point, you have to commit to signing up for a subscription and provide your payment information. You can choose to take advantage of a two-week free trial during the checkout process if it’s available at the moment. You will still have to enter your payment details so Noom could begin charging you after the trial expires.

How we evaluate health services and products

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Noom and other health services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing telehealth services, is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?

User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?

Customer support: Particularly in situations where “one size fits all” doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?

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