Does the Noom Diet Plan work?

In a Nutshell

  • Program is community-based and aimed at lifelong behavior changes, not a quick fix
  • Dieters use a phone app for goal management and communication
  • Enrollment and annual or monthly fees are required

The Noom Diet is a flexible diet plan with loose restrictions. It allows you to decide what foods you eat, but sets high and low limits on calories. Noom is based on the standard weight-loss recommendation that: 1) a minimum calorie intake is required for health, though 2) a daily calorie deficit results in weekly weight loss. This approach oftentimes leads to healthier eating, as well.

A couple weeks after enrollment, you are given a weight-loss coach and assigned to a support group of other Noom members. It is believed that this community-based approach helps you lose weight and keep it off. Studies have confirmed that when people join a weight-loss program with another person, or group of people, they are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.

There are not many studies evaluating the Noom Diet’s effectiveness. A 2016 study, however, found that 78% of its nearly 36,000 participants lost weight over an 18-month period. A 2017 study found similar results over a 6-month period.

Noom is not free. An annual membership is available for $199, or a monthly membership for $59 per month. Noom’s advantage over other food trackers and dieting apps is the access to a coach and support group.

Noom Steps

  1. Download and launch the app.
  2. Provide demographic information (gender, age, geography, etc.) and goals.
  3. A daily calorie target is established, which is your diet plan.
  4. Food and exercise are logged into the app.
    1. As food is logged, it is color coded into green, yellow, and red categories.
      1. Green – foods with the fewest calories (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
      2. Yellow – foods with more calories (beans, dairy, lean meats)
      3. Red – foods highest in calories (red meats, juice, nuts, chocolate, “junk” foods)
  5. Coaches and support groups provide feedback daily. (See Coaches & Support Groups section below).

While Noom doesn’t limit any foods, it does make recommendations as to the percentage of green, yellow, and red food consumed: 30% green, 45% yellow, and 25% red.

Coaches & Support Groups

Coaches check-in daily and comment on your intake and exercise efforts. In addition to reviewing your exercise and food logs, coaches help set goals and hold you to them.

It is important to note that coaches are not necessarily registered dieticians or other healthcare personnel. When hired, they are trained through Noom’s coach training program, which includes evidence-based practices and behavior change strategies and methodologies.

Support groups are accessible 24/7. The support groups are effective in helping with meal plans and supporting behavior change.

And if you get derailed in your weight-loss efforts, Noom provides a S(tress)-O-S plan to help get you back on track.

Safety

You should always consult with your physician, and ideally a nutritionist or registered dietician (RD), before changing your diet or eating habits.However, because the diet is based on calorie counts and not food restrictions, unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is safe for anyone to try.

Noom does not promote restricting food in an unsafe or unhealthy way. It uses evidence-based behavior changes. Results vary based on individual goals and effort, though people can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week, which is considered safe by healthcare professionals.

STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: A

Noom itself has not been widely studied, though existing studies are all positive. Noom is founded on long-standing, effective, standard diet recommendations that are supported by decades of good-quality, patient-oriented evidence; and well-established evidence that group programs increase participation, adherence, and sustain outcomes.

OUR RULING:

Noom is a safe and effective weight-loss program, and while there are free food trackers available that also set daily calorie goals and may work for you, it is the community support of Noom that sets it apart.

OUR SOURCES:

  • Chin, S.O., Keum, C., Woo, J., Park, J., Choi, H.J., Woo, J-t, & Rhee, S.Y. (2016, November 07). Successful weight reduction and maintenance by using a smartphone application in those with overweight and obesity. Scientific Reports, 6, 34563. Retrieved from: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep34563#ethics
  • Daily Telegraph (London). (2019, July 15). Smart slimming – Is diet app Noom really the new Weight Watchers? Daily Telegraph (London), 1, 19-20.
  • Kim, H., Faw, M., & Michaelides, A. (2017). Mobile but connected: Harnessing the power of self-efficacy and group support for weight loss success through mHealth intervention. Journal of Health Communication, 22(5), 395-402.
  • Krukowski, R.A., West, D.S., Priest, J., Ashikaga, T., Naud, S., & Harvey, J.R. (2019). The impact of the interventionist-participant relationship on treatment adherence and weight loss. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 9(2), 369-372.
  • Noom. (2016, August 30). Noom’s coach training program receives official approval from premier coach training organization. Retrieved from: https://web.noom.com/press-releases/2016/08/nooms-coach-training-program-receives-official-approval-premier-coach-training-organization/
  • Noom.com. (n.d.). https://www.noom.com/#/
  • PR Newswire. (2018, December 12). Noom ranks as top trending diet in 2018, according to Google – Year in Search. Gale Business Insights: Global. Retrieved from: http://bi.gale.com.nocdbproxy.xavier.edu/global/article/GALE%7CA586629834?u=xavier_main
  • TopConsumerReviews.com. (2020, July 28). Bets popular diets – 2020 popular diet reviews: Noom (number one). Retrieved from: https://www.topconsumerreviews.com/populardiets/detailed-reviews.php#noom
  • Taylor, S.S., Olsen, M.K., McVay, M.A., Grubber, J., Gierisch, J.M., Yancy Jr., W.S., & Voils, C.I. (2019). The role of group cohesion in a group-based behavioral weight loss intervention. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 162-168.
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Learn more about it here.