Noom is a new(ish) American weight loss app, although I'm sure they'd dispute this. It has over 45 Million users, which basically means 45 Million people have downloaded the app. It’s important to know Noom's tag line is 'Stop Dieting. Get Life Long Results'. Is this the reason for its popularity? Is it really leading the way in anti-diet nutrition. Or as I suspect, are they simply telling us what we want to hear?
Of course I had to go take a look to see how they are managing to achieve what everyone else has failed at - helping people sustain their weight loss. Oh yeah, in a non diet way.
It boasts the position of the 3rd most searched diet in 2018. Beaten by the Keto diet in first place and the Dubrow diet in second.
The Dubrow Diet has been created by a plastic surgeon (the funny one on the TV show Botched if you've ever seen it?) and an actress (his wife) in real housewives [sigh].
This doesn't actually prove anything of course. One of the most googled questions in 2018 was 'what is the time?' Incidentally, the carnivore diet was in 4th place. See what I mean?
This is what I discovered:
Noom says it's not a diet. It says positive things like there are no bad foods. It talks about beating your inner food demons, crushing thought distortions, debunking weight loss myths and resisting food pushers.....This all sounds wonderful to me; a teacher of intuitive eating and non-diet approaches to food. My hopes are high, despite the niggle in my gut.
- Then I see a programme that talks about fat burning and weight loss goals.
- I see recipes that give you the Calories so you can stay within your limits.
- I see eat less energy dense (aka lower Calorie) foods.
- I see meal plans (well one actually and they charge you £39 for the privilege of it)
I decided to sign up to see what Noom really looked like inside.
I went for the free 30-second online evaluation. 30 seconds I can do.............
The image on this home screen is of a skinny lady (standing sideways so you can see how thin she is), giving a patronising high five to a forward facing fatter lady. These subliminal messages are genius right?
It began with 'it' asking me the ideal weight I wanted to reach. It didn't know anything else about me so clearly this is the main objective. Whatever 'ideal' means.
I chose a weight that is considered to be at the higher end of my 'normal' range (according to BMI). This happened to be 75Kg.
I then answered loads more 'evaluation' questions. The standard current weight (80Kg), height, age, gender etc. Some seemed a bit random to me - had I taken antibiotics in the last 2 years and where did I live, interspersed with reminders of how bloomin amazing Noom is.
Apparently, because I'm in my 40's, I need a slightly different strategy depending on my current lifestyle. Oh the shame! It asked me if my diet and activity needed a lot of work and then asked me if I tended to eat sandwiches and/or wraps OR eat soups and salads. Is this all people eat for lunch on Noom?
I was asked how often I ate because apparently that can impact my metabolism. I felt the question was loaded and I panicked about which one to press! So I'm now doubting myself - arghh I just eat when I'm flippin hungry!
Then, ‘do I have back issues?’ ‘diabetes or any other long term condition’ before I saw it connect to the database and decide if I was a hopeless case or not. We are now around 10 minutes in. The wait was horrendous.
It let me glimpse a graph of a 2 month weight loss plan, ‘designed just for me’ to lose the 'desired' 5 Kg.
I ended up paying £1 for my 'personalised' plan (which saved me me a whopping £59. I'm so good at finding bargains!) Oh and of course I had to download the Noom app.
I was sure to make made-up-Mel a healthy weight. Noom on the other hand were still willing to take my money over 2 months to help me get thinner. I really wanted them to say hey Mel, you're all good, you don't need us!
But before I could sneeze, I was allocated coach Melanie A! Melanie is a pretty lady. I'm thinking with 44 Million users she may not be human, or I need her moisturizer.
Anyway, Melanie wants me to go weigh myself. I can't message Melanie to tell her I don't want to step on the scales. I'd love to explain to her that weight is a very poor indicator of health, causes much frustration and only encourages a diet mentality. You know, the stuff you shouldn't be encouraging if you are stopping dieting.......
I skip the step and thankfully am reassured I have scanxiety. WTH?! And then I am asked to rank my level of anxiety. Well thanks to Noom and Melanie, I'm feeling a bit bloody annoyed!
So then we move on to food logging. Noomelanie says "the coolest thing about Nooom is you learn how many Calories a particular food has" Whooppee! Just what I need make me obsess even more about food.
It ranks foods using a traffic light system. It says to go for foods high in water and fibre (these are green). Mmmmmm this is gonna be noomalicious. Desserts of course are red and off limits.
Next up.............Holy shit I'm only allowed 1200 Calories?!! I told Melanie I was pretty active. Perhaps she fell asleep in that bit? My Basal Metabolic Rate for the data I put in would be around 1500 Cal. If I eat less than that, my body is going to slow right down and there's a metabolic sh*t storm right there.
I'm left feeling so frustrated. This was NOT what they implied it to be but then I'm hardly surprised. Noom is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Wellness and lifestyle being wrapped up in a non- dieting disguise. Using anti-diet language to lure you in and then bombard you with psychology jargon and funky tools that are only going to distract you further from understanding what the hell your body needs.
It IS a diet programme!
They show off the fact their users maintain weight loss for 9 months. Not bad for a non-diet programme? Well that doesn't really tell us anything to be honest. I'd love to see what the longer-term results are because all literature points to the fact that dieters will regain 65% of their weight within 12 months and almost all is regained (plus more) within 5 years.
Please don't bother with Noom. Save your money (this sucks it out of you like a Henry Hoover) because it is NOT promising anything new and it's not being truthful. If anything Noom will further increase the risk of you NOT dealing with any food demons or crushing thought distortions, mess up your metabolism and leave you fatter than when you started.
I can't find for the life of me what NOOM actually stands for but one of my group members sums it up perfectly: Numpties Offer Overpriced Misinformation
Please suggest your own acronyms for Noom, if you can beat this!