BY: Megan McCarthy
There’s a lot of mystery around Noom—starting with “what even is it?” The social media ads are maddeningly vague, showing happy people at backyard barbecues, pools, and other friendly locations. The company’s Instagram feed is full of mouthwatering pictures of healthy food, with a bio that states “Start today and lead a healthier life!” But the marketing never seems to fully explain what the company offers. You get a feeling it’s about weight loss, but there are no before-and-after shots, no overly large pants that no longer fit, and not many enthusiastic testimonials. What is this thing?
When we decided to review Noom in late September, I volunteered to test it out. What I found was an easy-to-follow behavior-management program with a bonus weight-loss component. For the past three months, I’ve been logging my weight and food intake using Noom, and I’m down 20 pounds in that time. Is it a miracle? No, but it feels like something more substantial: A sustainable way to create healthier habits.
What is Noom?
Put simply: Noom is an app on your phone that helps you track your weight, monitor what you eat, and connect with like-minded people in your same situation.
Noom is not a fad diet or an overly-regimented elimination program, nor does it offer radical nutrition advice or mindless meal-plan delivery. Its underlying nutritional philosophy is similar to the famous koan from nutritionist Michael Pollan: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. What Noom does well is create an interactive diary that helps you stick to that method. Ultimately, you make the healthier choices, Noom just creates a framework to make those choices easier. Noom treats you like an adult, even if you’re a stressed-out and time-crunched one.
How does Noom work?
In order to use Noom, you need to have a smartphone, email address or social media account, and a credit card. You’ll first sign up for Noom on their website, then download the app to your phone. (It’s available on the App Store for iOS devices or Google Play store for Android devices.) When you sign up and create an account, the app will make you take a short personality quiz. (It’s not clear what the quiz assesses; I suspect your answers help sort you into your support group or adjusts the language that you read in your daily notes.)