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Noom is a diet app that uses psychology as a basis for weight loss. Published research suggests that the Noom programs can support weight loss and are beneficial for people with diabetes or hypertension.
In this article, we look at how Noom works, what foods someone following the diet can eat, and what the company’s research says about the benefits of the app. We also suggest alternatives to Noom, including other apps and weight loss techniques.
Noom is a health app that people can subscribe to with iOS or Android. Different programs are available for weight loss, fitness, and a healthy mind.
When a person downloads the app, it asks them some basic questions and carries out a psychology-based evaluation. The purpose of this is to help set achievable goals and identify situations and times when a person may overeat.
Noom allocates users a “goal specialist” coach who messages them with support and encouragement. People use the app to log their meals, activity, and exercise. They can also record their blood pressure. People who have diabetes can log their blood glucose, too.
The app contains additional information, including articles about positive thinking, eating habits, and stress relief.
Noom also reminds users to log their weight and meals, and it tests their knowledge with short quizzes.
Please note that no one at Medical News today, including the writer, has tried this product. All information is research-based.
The Noom app uses color coding to help people choose from a database of recipes. It also color codes the meals that they log to allow them to learn a healthful way of eating.
A person will get a thumbs up if they pick healthful foods and a prompt if their choices are not so good.
Meals and foods are color coded according to their calorie density. Calorie density refers to how much water and nutrients a food contains, its calories, and its volume.
- Green is for foods with a low calorie density, which are higher in water, providing more volume and fewer calories. These foods contain the highest concentration of healthful nutrients, and people should aim to eat plenty of them.
- Yellow is for foods that contain more calories and fewer nutrients than the green options. People should eat these foods in moderation.
- Red foods are the most calorie dense and have the fewest healthful nutrients. People should eat these foods less frequently.
Based on its color-coding system, these are some examples of the types of foods and drinks that Noom advises people to eat or limit:
- Green (to make up the bulk of the diet): Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nonfat milk and yogurt, nonfat cheese sticks, egg whites, potatoes and sweet potatoes, tofu, and polenta.
- Yellow (eat in moderation): Grilled chicken, lean meat, tuna and salmon, eggs, low fat cheese and milk, pita bread, avocados, baked beans, white bread and pasta, hummus, deli meats, couscous, beer, and diet soda.
- Red (eat less frequently and in smaller portions): Red meats, processed meats, butter, mayonnaise, potato chips, peanut butter, orange juice, honey, sugar, flour, wine, full fat cheese, and whole milk.
Recipes are also color coded so that someone can make healthful choices. Noom details what percentage of the recipe is green, yellow, or red.
The color-coding system makes it easy to choose healthful meals and limit meals with a higher calorie density.
Noom ultimately encourages people to think mindfully about what they eat so that they make more healthful food choices. This shift in mindset can lead to numerous health benefits.
Noom’s diabetes prevention program is the first fully mobile program to receive official recognition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP).
A 2018 pilot study by Noom evaluated weight loss in 59 participants during a 24-week diabetes prevention program.
The participants, who had overweight or obesity and had received a diagnosis of prediabetes, used the Noom app and its coaching facility. The study findings suggested significant weight loss and engagement with the app.
Users lost an average of 7.05–8.78 kilograms (kg) over a 65-week period that included a follow-up. The participants’ weight loss depended on how much they engaged with the app and which parts of the program they completed. The authors suggest that the app is comparable with, or more effective than, other eHealth interventions for diabetes prevention.
Using Noom to lose weight could also help reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.
Research has associated obesity and excess body weight with a range of health conditions, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- some forms of cancer
- respiratory disease
- chronic kidney disease
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Noom may also be helpful for people who have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
A small 2017 pilot study evaluated 50 adults with hypertension who used Noom’s hypertension prevention program. Over 24 weeks, participants who had 80% engagement with the app and completed the program had significant weight loss and blood pressure reductions that resulted in a hypertension category change.
In the study, Noom used the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet, which experts created to help people manage their blood pressure.
Noom also has options for people who eat specific diets, such as vegan, gluten-free, or low carbohydrate.
Research suggests that psychological, emotional, and social well-being are all factors that influence a person’s weight. Noom is not the only option for people seeking psychological support for weight loss.
People wishing to adopt a more healthful diet may benefit from:
- seeing a registered dietitian or certified nutrition specialist who can help with identifying goals, recognizing eating habits, and putting a personalized weight loss strategy in place
- getting a referral to a psychological practitioner, such as a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) or counselor, which may be particularly useful for someone who has anxiety around food or is dealing with issues relating to trauma or stress
- working with a personal trainer, who can design a weight and exercise plan for a person, provide support, and encourage them to reach their goals
- finding a weight loss buddy, as it can improve morale to spend time with others also in the process of developing a new exercise regimen and trying new foods
Alternatively, other apps can help with weight loss and fitness. Options include:
Noom is a user-friendly app that uses psychology as a basis for weight loss. Published research suggests that it is effective for weight loss and the prevention of diabetes and hypertension.
Noom does not disallow any foods. Instead, the app encourages people to choose wisely using a color-coding system. A personal health coach helps users achieve their goals.
People can also get support for weight loss by working with a personal trainer or dietitian, addressing food anxiety through counseling or CBT, or finding a diet buddy. Other weight loss and fitness apps are also available.