Perhaps the most difficult aspect of living a healthy lifestyle is not choosing the right diet and exercise plan, but holding yourself accountable to practicing healthy habits over time, particularly when doing so is a solo journey. That’s where Noom comes in. Noom is a lifestyle app that is focused on instilling lifelong habits that not only help their users look and feel better, but lower their risk of developing chronic illnesses. The philosophy behind Noom is based on the idea that we all make a significant number of decisions throughout the day that impact our health, and while these individual decisions have little impact, their cumulative effect over time is substantial. As such, Noom is designed to hold you accountable for your daily decisions, subtly encouraging positive choices over negative ones. Also, Noom connects you with a community of users of a similar demographic and with similar lifestyle goals, allowing you to seek advice and receive encouragement along your healthy lifestyle journey.
Although weight loss is Noom’s primary goal, the app strives to differentiate itself from dieting programs that may lead to fast results but leave people prone to regaining the weight they lost after completing the program. As such, the company advertises its app as “the last weight loss program you’ll ever need.” Upon signing up for Noom, users are presented with a survey that asks about their age, height, weight, and gender, and then the app asks users to enter their goal weight. After being prompted to sign up for the option premium version of the app, users are then taken to the home screen, from which they can enlist in a number of courses specifically designed to instill healthy eating and exercise habits. Noom’s perspective on nutrition is focused on the idea of “calorie density,” as it encourages users to eat low calorie density foods over high calorie density foods. As such, foods like leafy greens are encouraged, as they provide a small number of calories relative to their size. Additionally, the app separates food into three categories: red, yellow, and green, and it encourages users to eat yellow and green foods while avoiding red ones.
The simplicity of the diet and exercise plans included with Noom is part of the company’s efforts to instill lasting habits
One of the benefits of Noom relative to other weight loss apps is that Noom’s approach has been scientifically validated, although the total amount of science conducted on the subject is minimal. In one study, which included 36,000 participants, 80 percent of users who stuck with the app for a median of 267 days reported weight loss which they kept off. In this study, it was found that tracking dinner was the most effective component of the app for encouraging weight loss, and tracking overall calories, activities, and weight also proved to be effective. Noom also doesn’t denote any particular food as strictly off-limits; while the app will encourage you to seek healthy alternatives to calorie-dense foods, it won’t try to prevent you from eating them, instead rewarding users for consistently and honestly tracking their food intake.
If the program seems very simplistic, that’s because it is. The simplicity of the diet and exercise plans included with Noom is part of the company’s efforts to instill lasting habits; the inconvenience of organizing your life around a strict set of dietary guidelines often has the effect of discouraging would-be dieters over time, so the app attempts to streamline the process as much as possible. That being said, some dieticians complain that this simplistic approach goes too far, as certain high calorie density foods, like nuts, olives, and avocados, are both appealing and healthy. Additionally, while the app features courses created by health coaches, many of these individuals are not registered dieticians, and users have complained that the support provided by these coaches is artificial. While the app purports to allow you to speak with a health coach, users have suspected they are instead speaking with a chatbot, as their responses aren’t always helpful. Others have complained that the app’s database of foods is incomplete, and that tracking food over time is, in general, a pain. Nonetheless, if you’re serious about making long-lasting healthy changes to your lifestyle, it doesn’t hurt to give Noom a shot and determine if it’s the right app for you.