Noom is one of the most popular weight loss apps, and it provides a comprehensive approach to dieting. The company believes that psychology is important to successful dieting, so their app provides more than just calorie tracking. Noom users get exercise recommendations, mental health recommendations and personal support from a coach.
It’s true that human psychology and healthy habits can improve weight loss outcomes, but that doesn't necessarily mean this app will be effective.
In this article we’ll review the medical studies on Noom to give our take on whether or not the app is likely to be effective for weight loss. We'll also discuss some concerns we have over Noom's user data policy, and compare Noom to other popular weight loss programs like Weight Watchers.
Is Noom Effective for Weight Loss?
There have been several studies published in legitimate medical journals analyzing whether Noom is effective for weight loss.
A medical review published in the Scientific Reports journal which tracked nearly 36,000 Noom users found that the app caused weight loss on average. 31% of users lost greater than 5% of body weight, 24% of users lost 10% of body weight and 4% of users lost greater than 20% of body weight.
The median duration of app usage was 267 days, so these results were achieved in under one year.
A clinical trial published in 2021 examined whether Noom is effective for postpartum (following childbirth) weight loss. Postpartum weight retention is a common problem, and Noom was found to be effective in this patient population.
After 24 weeks, the women lost an average of 8.99 pounds, and 80% of Noom users lost weight.
A clinical trial published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health evaluated body positivity and self-compassion in a cohort of Noom users. Since some patients struggling with obesity have related mental health concerns about self-image, this is an important consideration.
Not only did the trial participants lose weight on Noom, but their self-reported scores of body appreciation, body image flexibility and self-compassion significantly improved. This suggests that the coaching aspect of Noom's service may provide additional benefits to mental health beyond weight loss.
Noom has a Research section of their website with citations of over 40 medical trials on their weight loss program.
Based on the available research, we will consider Noom to be effective for weight loss and potentially for secondary mental health outcomes. We're impressed by the significant clinical research backing of this app.
As we highlighted in our does Noom work article, some medical experts have concerns over Noom's weight loss strategies, but overall we consider Noom to be a significantly superior option to most commercial weight loss programs.
How Does Noom Work?
Noom's app provides daily health information that may help consumers make more informed nutrition choices. It also pairs users with a health coach that can help support their weight loss goals. This type of individualized encouragement and accountability can help users stay committed to consistent weight loss.
The app has weight logging, food and water logging and step counting functionalities that provide updated metrics which can help users lose weight on a daily basis.
Noom provides healthy recipe options as well.
Because the app has so many functionalities, it may be useful to watch a YouTube video that actually shows what the app looks like and how it works:
Noom Vs. Weight Watchers
Since Weight Watchers (also referred to as "WW") is another popular weight loss program, consumers are often curious about which is likely to be more effective.
The good news is that both programs are proven in legitimate medical studies to cause weight loss. We already highlighted some of the research backing Noom above.
An extensive medical review published in 2016 examined the efficacy of various commercial weight loss programs including Weight Watchers. The study authors found that individuals using the Weight Watchers program experienced 2.6% greater weight loss than a control group after 12 months.
These results are inferior to the results achieved with Noom in clinical studies, so we would recommend Noom over Weight Watchers, though we consider both to be good options for long-term weight loss.
How Much Does Noom Cost?
Noom has a variable cost depending on plan purchased. Longer plans are cheaper per-month.
At the time of updating this article, the price of a monthly Noom plan is $60, while an annual plan costs $199. This means that the annual plan only costs $16.58 per month which we consider to be quite reasonable given the research backing. This is cheaper than most gym memberships and most commercial diet programs.
For those who can afford it and are committed to long-term weight loss, we would recommend the annual plan given that it's only 28% of the cost of the monthly plan.
Health Data Privacy Concerns
Health and biometric data is arguably the most personal data that exists, and it’s a significant responsibility for healthcare startups like Noom to ensure this data is stored securely and is not shared with third-parties.
We disagree with this practice on ethical grounds. We don't believe that companies gathering health data should share customer personal information with third parties.
We urge Noom to stop the practice of sharing customer personal information with third parties, even if that means they need to charge slightly more per month to offset any potential revenue loss.
Our Weight Loss Recommendations
There are several weight loss products that we recommend due to their research backing and lack of side effects.
Dietary fiber is a safe and effective weight loss supplement.
An extensive medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition found that dietary fiber intake directly predicts weight loss when consumed at a high enough dose. Fiber is zero-calorie plant matter that makes you feel full faster, and consume fewer calories overall.
The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link.
We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 grams (g) of fiber. This is within the effective fiber dosing range associated with the greatest weight loss outcomes in the above-linked study.
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is another dietary supplement which has been shown in clinical trials to cause weight loss.
MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.
We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link.
The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.
Noom Food List
Noom categorizes foods into "green," "yellow" and "red" foods by caloric density. Green foods have low caloric density and red foods have high caloric density. This means that green foods have low calories per weight consumed. As an example, lettuce has fewer calories per weight than a pizza.
From a weight loss effectiveness standpoint, this approach is logical. Denser foods can lead to more calories consumed per meal.
However, from an overall health perspective, we consider this categorization slightly concerning because the subconscious effect of foods being categorized as "red" may disincentivize users from eating healthy foods that can be incorporated into a weight loss program.
As an example, nuts and seeds are incredibly healthy foods that are not only proven in medical research to be associated with reduced all-cause mortality but also with reduced rate of biological aging. We would not want to disincentivize individuals from eating this category of whole foods at all.
Noom Before-and-After Images
Potential Noom users are often curious about before-and-after images of real users to see what type of weight loss can be achieved with Noom.
One of the most popular Noom videos on YouTube shares before-and-after images from a real user. The creator's channel is called "Nicki Gomez" and they share images from their weight loss journey with Noom:
Noom Class Action Lawsuit
Noom settled with customers for $56 million in 2022 in a class-action lawsuit which alleged that Noom made it difficult for users to cancel their auto-renewal subscriptions.
This settlement has closed, which means that any user believed to have been harmed by this practice cannot take part in this lawsuit. The settlement funds are already allocated.
This is another red flag in our opinion about the business ethics of this company, especially in the context of the data privacy concerns we have.