Noom – Nothing New, Everything Harmful

Noom same diet industry lies new nameI’ve been seeing ads for Noom all over social media for quite a while now. They claim to be a new way to lose weight that can help you keep the weight off for life.

First of all, their commercials are chock full of diet advice that is as old as the hills and has no research to back it as actually creating sustained weight loss. (“Eat grapes instead of raisins, drink wine instead of beer, drink a glass of water if you’re hungry, blah blah blah) a lot of the program seems to be based on the old “eat watery, fibery, bulky food so you’ll feel fuller” advice that doesn’t work because your body is a sophisticated piece of machinery and not a lawnmower. 1987 called and it wants its shitty diet advice back.

Moreover, how can they claim to be brand new, while also claiming that they can help you keep weight off for life? That claim would have to be backed by some serious long-term research in order to be credible. I asked them for the research – I asked in e-mail, through their website contact, and on social media – including one memorable thread that had 758 comments, to which they replied directly to 757. Guess whose comment did not receive a response?

Noom No Answer
Text: Ragen Chastain: I’ve made several requests for the research to back up the claim that weight loss is maintained long-term, but haven’t received anything back. Noom, can you please help me get this information? Thanks in advance!

Spoiler Alert – they could not help me find that information because it doesn’t exist, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I asked folks on social media to share their experiences and they were truly terrible. Especially for people who chose the option “get fit for good” (rather than “lose weight for good”) because they believed it to be a wellness program, only to be given extremely low-calorie diets, and eating disorder triggers from food moralization to being asked to literally pledge to weigh themselves every single day.

I decided to try their sign up process for myself. The first thing I found was that whether I clicked “Get Fit For Good” or “Lose Weight For Good” I was sent to the exact same process. Pretty disingenuous if you ask me, and another example of companies co-opting anti-diet language to sell diets.

As I went through the demographic questions, I was sad to see that this “modern” weight loss company only gave gender options for “Male” and “Female” completely erasing the existence of non-binary people.

I gave my starting height and weight as 5’3, 300 pounds. I gave my goal weight as 75 pounds as a test –  hoping against hope that it would send up a red flag and recommend some kind of counseling. Instead, I got a page that said “You entered 75lb(s) for your ideal weight. This is your goal weight, not the amount of weight you’d like to lose. Would you like to edit your response?” I hit “confirm” and Noom moved me on through its process with no problem.

They showed me a slide that claimed that a study showed that 78% of users in 2016 had “sustained” weight loss over 9 months. It included a graph showing Noom performing better than “restrictive diet” though of course they never give any indication what “restrictive diet” means (and considering some of the people I heard from were given “plans” from Noom that included only 1,000 calories a day I can’t imagine what they would define as “restrictive.”)

There is also the fact that the research shows most people can sustain weight loss for 9 months, but the vast majority gain it back (many gaining back more than they lost) over the next 2-5 years. I would imagine the reason that they are still touting less than 80% of people managing to lose weight for 9 months in 2016 (rather than, say having followed people until now,) is that all those people are having the exact same experience of every other dieter – losing weight short term and gaining it back long-term.

But here is the blue ribbon loser question:

“Women in their 40’s who want to reach an ideal weight between 65 lbs and 85 lbs need a slightly different strategy depending on their current lifestyle. Which best describes you?”

I can best be described as slipping into a rage coma Noom, thanks for asking.  Newsflash Noom: women in their 40’s who want to reach an ideal weight between 65 lbs and 85 lbs need a VERY different strategy than a weight loss diet!

Of course I didn’t sign up (the last thing I’m going to do is give them money,) and I thought it was done. Then, a few days later I received an e-mail, reminding me that:

From the information you provided, we’ve put together a custom course that will help you reach your goal weight of 75 lbs by June.

You read that right, Noom has put together a plan that will “help” me to lose 225 pounds in (checks calendar) 4 months. Yes, this definitely sounds legitimate and safe.

As far as I can tell, there’s literally nothing new about Noom, it’s the same useless-at-best, dangerous-at-worst shit, different name. Here’s the story in pictures:

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10 thoughts on “Noom – Nothing New, Everything Harmful

  1. The commercials disgust me beyond belief. They’re trying to use all this inspirational music and language (“I always thought it was me!”), but the story they’re telling is still one of lazy gluttons who eat everything that isn’t nailed down and don’t have the intelligence or “willpower” to follow any plan that isn’t designed, run, and monitored by a thin person (“I gave up bread and pasta… for a day” because fatty can’t stick with it without a Kind But Firm Thin Hand guiding her, amirite?).

    Everything I’ve seen of Noom is old wives’ tales and darkweb-level fat hate trying to sneak into polite conversation disguised as cutting-edge science and “BoPo” inspiration.

    The diet industry really does see fat people the way Nice Guys see women: as dehumanized vending machines whose purpose for existing is dispensing some desired behavior, and who will dispense that desired behavior if the diet salesman/Nice Guy can only figure out the “price” – the exact right combination of Kindness Coins and Negging Bills.

  2. Oops, in my anger at the awful commercials they seem to play all the time here…

    …I forgot to thank you for actually trying to contact them, going through their enrollment process when they wouldn’t talk to you, talking to other people who’ve used the program, and looking for the research. That’s invaluable info you’ve turned up, and this article is great. Thank you.

  3. THAT is utterly puke inducing! Shitwonderballs awful.

    I am gonna go out on a stout limb here and give %40 of NOOM users a by, It is VERY VERY HARD to un-brainwash yourself when you are surrounded by the crazy 24/7. Even as the crazy jumps up and down on your head singing Afternoon Delight, telling you it’s Not a Diet, It’s A LIFESTYLE CHANGE, for the uberteenth time!

    Fool me once… Hardly applies here.

    They hate us, the world hates us, we are bad bad people (women) who refuse to get with it and learn to be decent people and we really like being treated like non-persons, cattle, chattel or objects.

    Now, how bout that slide rule from crazytown? Hmnn lose twohundred plus unsightly pounds By Swimsuit Season! Well Hooray for the Bulldogs, Sign me up!

    I got sick to death of the NM brand about 75 lbs of commercials ago… Next…

  4. Well, it took her about a year to do it and she only lost 205 pounds, but my great-grandmother had this super-effective permanent weight loss plan. It was called acute myelogenous leukemia. She went from 300 pounds to 95 pounds in the space of a year, and then she died. But, hey, at least she cut a svelte figure in her coffin, amirite?

  5. So, according to Noom, people similar to you lose an average of 18 pounds in 4 months under their plan, but they can somehow make you lose 225 pounds in that same 4 months?

    Wow. I have no words.

  6. Lose 225 pounds in 4 months. Wow. Clearly there are caring, knowledgeable people behind this computer program. #sarcasm Losing 75 pounds in 4 months would be impossible and is a dangerous goal. Good grief.

  7. As a clinical social worker with an undergrad in psychology, I can’t tell you that it’s not “psychology” they throw at you. It’s without-merit, watered down psychotherapy bullshit that middle schoolers can spout off. It was a complete waste of money and I almost reported them them to the better business bureau last year before I got a refund. You’re article was spot-on!!

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