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WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, and Noom are two of the best-known commercial weight loss programs available today.
Both programs encourage moderation and portion control and have been proven to help people lose weight.
However, you may wonder which program is the better fit for you.
This article compares and contrasts WW and Noom, including their effectiveness for weight loss, cost, foods to eat and avoid, benefits and downsides, and app functionality.
|Food tracking||PersonalPoints system||color-coding system|
|Support||• virtual access to a coach|
• can pay more for unlimited access to in-person support groups
|weekly virtual check-ins with a coach|
|Education||available on the WW app and website||daily prompts to complete lessons|
|Weight loss||effective for short-term weight loss||effective for short-term weight loss|
|Cost||$23+ per month||$17+ per month|
|App||available on Android and Apple devices||available on Android and Apple devices|
|International availability||available in 15+ countries||available in 5 languages and in countries with access to Apple App Store or Google Play (with some exceptions)|
Noom is a weight loss program that’s based on the psychology behind your habits and food choices. It focuses on behavioral changes and provides daily lessons and a color-coding system to help you make better choices.
Note: This review focuses only on Noom for weight loss, not on the new Noom Mood program for stress relief.
How it works
On the program, you complete a daily weigh-in so you can see how your weight fluctuates daily and how factors other than food intake may affect it.
You also track your food intake on the Noom app.
When signing up, you’ll be assigned a calorie goal that’s calculated based on a weight loss of 2 pounds (about 1 kg) per week, although you can choose to decrease the weight loss goal (which increases your calorie allotment).
According to Noom, no food is off-limits. However, the program helps you focus on making healthier choices and adhere to your calorie goal by dividing foods into three color-coded categories:
- Green: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy
- Yellow: lean meats, beans, non-whole grains, eggs, avocados
- Red: fats, sugary foods, fried foods, salad dressings, red meats, salty snacks, nuts, and seeds
You’re encouraged to eat foods of all three colors each day, choosing yellow and red foods in moderation rather than completely avoiding them.
Additionally, you have a short daily lesson on habits, food choices, or psychology to help you better understand what drives your food choices.
Finally, you have a weekly check-in with a Noom goal specialist. The specialists are usually health coaches but may also be registered dietitians or certified personal trainers. These weekly check-ins can be brief or comprehensive, depending on your needs.
What we like about Noom
We like that Noom takes an “all foods in moderation” approach rather than banning certain foods or food groups altogether. In this way, Noom is a much better, more sustainable choice than crash diets that advocate for the total removal of certain foods or food groups.
We also appreciate that Noom educates its users on the psychology of eating and uses behavior change principles to help them meet their goals.
Overall, Noom appears to equip users with the knowledge and skills they need to continue making healthier lifestyle choices even after they end their membership.
WW, which until recently was known as Weight Watchers, has been around since the 1960s and has remained a wildly popular and successful weight loss program for the last several decades.
Although the program has gone through many changes over the years, it centers on the WW SmartPoints system. On WW, each food and drink is assigned a points value, and you’re given a daily points budget.
While no food is off-limits, the points system naturally encourages you to choose lower calorie, higher protein, and more nutritious foods, as they’re lower in points.
In the most recent iteration of WW, you respond to a survey called the PersonalPoints Engine to receive a customized daily PersonalPoints allotment, along with a customized list of zero-point foods.
The questions help WW personalize your experience so that you can potentially find more success on the program.
The questions ask about your current eating habits, food preferences, and lifestyle, and your answers are used to inform which items are included on your zero-point foods list and how many PersonalPoints you get each day.
Additionally, WW offers tiered plans with varying degrees of support:
- Digital: basic; includes limited access to live support
- Digital 360: includes all digital benefits plus access to online coaches and virtual wellness experiences (like cooking demos, nutrition classes, and guided workouts)
- Unlimited Workshops + Digital: includes all digital benefits plus unlimited access to in-person workshops and digital or in-person coaching
On all WW plans, you’re encouraged to do a weekly weigh-in.
What we like about WW
We like WW’s new individualized approach to points, which takes into consideration that everyone is a bit different and may not respond to different types of foods identically.
We also appreciate that it accounts for food preferences, as being able to include more enjoyable foods in the program may help improve your chances of success.
WW also offers varying degrees of support, so it’s a good fit for people who prefer the more independent, virtual-only option as well as those who want to attend in-person support groups.
Anecdotally, many people have reported weight loss success with both WW and Noom. What’s more, scientific evidence supports the weight loss benefits of both programs.
A large study in more than 35,000 Noom app users found that about 78% of them reported some weight loss while using the app. In this study, the most important factors for steady weight loss included tracking dinner regularly and weighing in regularly (
Another study in more than 7,000 men with overweight found that using Noom for 3 months resulted in an average loss of about 2 body mass index points. Additionally, those who adhered to the program more strictly lost more weight (
On the other hand, a large study including more than 29,000 people on WW found that one-third of them lost at least 5% of their body weight and that the average weight loss was about 6 pounds (2.8 kg) (
On that same note, a high quality study in 279 people found that the WW program was significantly more effective for weight loss after 3 months than an online newsletter that was sent to the control group (
In fact, the WW group lost about 6 pounds (2.7 kg) on average at 3 months, while the control group lost only about 3 pounds (1.3 kg) (
A review of studies investigating weight loss in commercial diet programs found that, on average, people doing WW lost 2.6% more weight than those who were assigned to control groups at 12 months (
Noom and WW both appear to be effective for weight loss, at least in the short term.
Noom and Weight Watchers are similarly priced.
A single month of Noom costs $60, but this price decreases significantly if you prepay for longer periods of time. For instance, 6 months of Noom costs a one-time $159 fee, and an entire year is just $199, or about $17 per month.
On the other hand, WW offers a tiered pricing plan depending on which program you select. At the time of publishing, the prices are:
- Digital: approximately $23 per month
- Digital 360: approximately $30 per month
- Unlimited Workshops + Digital: approximately $50 per month (this price may vary based on your zip code)
The basic digital WW program is more expensive than an annual pass for Noom. However, these prices don’t reflect any promotional offers that may be in effect when you sign up for either program.
On both programs, no foods are completely off-limits. Instead, the WW points system and Noom color-coding system are designed to help you choose the most filling and nutritious foods that are also lower in calories.
Some of the foods that may be zero points for certain WW users or are green on the Noom program are:
- Protein: egg whites, tofu
- Carbs: whole grains, sweet potatoes
- Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, tomato, watermelon
- Vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, salad greens, spinach, carrots, bell peppers, onion
- Fats: none
- Dairy: nonfat cheese, skim or plant-based milk, nonfat yogurt
On the other hand, foods that are high in WW points or may fall into the red category on Noom include:
- Protein: bacon, sausage, fried meats, hamburgers, nuts, and seeds
- Carbs: cakes, cookies, pastries, potato chips, french fries
- Fruits: jams or jellies, fruit juices, dried fruit
- Vegetables: fried vegetables
- Fats: butter, oils
- Dairy: ice cream, full fat milk or yogurt, full fat cheese
Sample WW menu
- Breakfast: egg white scramble with diced sweet potato, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese
- Lunch: pasta salad made with whole wheat pasta, drained canned tuna, spinach, and olive oil
- Supper: chicken and vegetable stir-fry made with sliced chicken breast, frozen stir-fry vegetables, low sodium soy sauce, and brown rice
- Snacks: 1/2-cup (75-gram) serving of frozen yogurt with a sliced peach
Sample Noom menu
- Breakfast: overnight oats made with Greek yogurt and strawberries
- Lunch: grilled chicken and avocado sandwich on whole grain bread, with a side salad with olive oil vinaigrette
- Supper: grilled cod with a sweet potato and roasted broccoli
- Snack: apple with peanut butter
Both Noom and WW have a number of fitness-related features. With either mobile app, you can sync your fitness tracker so that your activity and daily steps are automatically logged in your Noom or WW profile.
Noom’s guided daily lessons and articles contain some fitness information and exercise tips. The program also offers add-on custom workout plans for an additional fee.
A WW membership comes with a complimentary subscription to obé Fitness, a streaming service that offers yoga, Pilates, and mobility workouts. WW also offers free trials for ClassPass, Orangetheory, and YYoga.
The PersonalPoints program allows you to earn additional points by engaging in healthy behaviors like exercising or drinking water.
Both the Noom and WW apps are robust. Their features include:
- food tracking with barcode scanning functionality
- activity tracking and syncing with fitness trackers
- sleep tracking
- live support from coaches
- access to an exclusive community
- weight tracking
In addition to all the features listed above, Noom provides daily lessons on psychology, food, and habit formation in the form of articles or interactive quizzes.
WW, on the other hand, offers an incentive program called WellnessWins, which allows you to earn points for completing tasks within the app. You can then exchange these points for prizes or fruit and veggie donations for families in need.
Both apps are available on Apple and Android devices.
WW is available in more than 15 countries, and Noom is available in countries with access to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, although the Solomon Islands, Sudan, Serbia, Myanmar, Macau, Liechtenstein, Iran, Georgia, Cuba, and China are exceptions to the latter.
Noom also offers its program in five languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and German.
Many people report finding weight loss success with WW. Overall, the brand has a good reputation — especially since the company and program have been around for decades now.
However, there are several negative reviews regarding how difficult it is to cancel a WW subscription. Many reviewers complain that they were charged during a free trial period or that they continue to be charged despite attempting to cancel many times.
Noom has many positive reviews and a generally positive reputation. Reviewers say that the app is easy to use, that the lessons are helpful, and that — for the most part — Noom promotes slow and steady weight loss.
However, some reviewers say the food tracking is not as robust as on other apps, and some say Noom hasn’t helped them lose any weight.
There are also complaints that Noom’s initial calorie goals are too low and that its green, yellow, and red system sometimes categorizes healthy, nutrient-rich foods as yellow or red simply because they’re higher in calories.
Considering the app’s intuitive design, daily lessons, and food tracking, reviewers say Noom is fairly simple to use.
In addition to weight loss, Noom has several other benefits, including its unique focus on the psychology behind your food choices.
Noom also offers coaching and support, and the color-coded system may help you recognize healthier and less healthy food choices even after you discontinue the program.
One study also suggested that Noom could help with blood sugar management and have the potential to reduce heart disease risk. However, because the authors of the study are Noom employees, there’s a potential risk of bias (
No study has directly compared the effectiveness of Noom and WW for blood sugar management or heart disease risk. Therefore, a direct comparison regarding these factors isn’t possible.
One downside of Noom is that many high fat foods, such as oils and cheeses, are red according to their color-coding system. These foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but they’re high in calories because of their high fat content.
For people who choose to eat a diet lower in carbs and higher in fat — even healthy fat — this may be one issue with the Noom program.
Additionally, there’s a lack of evidence regarding long-term weight loss outcomes for people using the Noom program.
It’s also important to note that because Noom encourages calorie counting, it may lead to a disordered relationship with food in some people. Furthermore, users note that the calorie goals recommended by the app are sometimes too low for most healthy adults (
WW is helpful for many people, but the points system is a little more complex and involved than Noom’s color-coded system. Regardless, the WW app strives to make logging and tracking your points as streamlined as possible.
WW can also help you learn to identify healthier food choices as you become more familiar with the PersonalPoints system.
Like Noom, it includes a social component that appears to aid weight loss.
However, this study cannot be compared with the study that suggested potential heart-health benefits for Noom, as the study setup and duration differed.
Overall, the potential long-term effects of Noom and WW on heart health are uncertain.
Like Noom’s color-coding system, the traditional WW points system discourages the consumption of fat, which may be difficult for people choosing to follow a lower carb, higher fat diet.
However, the new PersonalPoints system has started assigning lower points values to foods rich in unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Yet, despite this research, foods higher in saturated fat are still assigned higher points values in the Noom app.
Finally, there’s a lack of evidence regarding long-term weight maintenance on the WW program. As with most diets, once you discontinue the diet, there’s a risk of regaining the weight that you lost, especially if you haven’t made sustainable behavior changes (
|Pros||• individualized PersonalPoints budget and zero-point foods list|
• various degrees of support available
• no foods off-limits
• successful for short-term weight loss
• provides free obé Fitness membership
• app provides sleep and fitness tracking and rewards program
| • daily lessons about psychology, behavior change, and eating|
• easy-to-use green, yellow, and red food labeling system
• no foods off-limits
• successful for short-term weight loss
• app provides sleep and fitness tracking
• inexpensive 7-day trial available
• may help with blood sugar management
|Cons|| • expensive, especially for in-person workshops|
• may not protect against heart disease
• may discourage fat consumption
• no evidence regarding long-term weight loss maintenance
| • can be expensive, especially when paying monthly|
• may discourage fat consumption
• no evidence regarding long-term weight loss maintenance
• calorie counting may lead to unhealthy relationship with food
• recommended calorie goals may be too restrictive for some
Before you begin one of these programs, there are some important things to consider.
First, you need to know that dramatic weight loss is not guaranteed when you sign up for one of these programs.
Weight is highly personal and can be affected by a number of factors, so sometimes even making drastic changes to your diet or exercise habits may not bring the results you expect or desire.
Next, it’s important that you consult a healthcare professional before you start WW or Noom — especially if you have any preexisting medical conditions (like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease) or if you’re taking any prescription medications.
Weight changes can affect the way your body processes certain medications, so it’s important that your healthcare professional knows if your weight is likely to change over the next few months.
If you’re using Noom, it’s important to talk with a registered dietitian or another healthcare professional if you’re concerned that your recommended calorie goal is too low.
Finally, these programs may not be a good fit for people with a history of eating disorders or a disordered eating pattern. Although they are more flexible than many other diet programs, they may still be triggering for people with a history of disordered eating.
Trying to “do it right” when it comes to nutrition may feel tempting, but it can backfire. If you are preoccupied with food or your weight, feel guilt surrounding your food choices, or routinely engage in restrictive diets, consider reaching out for support. These behaviors may indicate a disordered relationship with food or an eating disorder.
Disordered eating and eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity, race, age, socioeconomic status, or other identities.
They can be caused by any combination of biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors — not just by exposure to diet culture.
Feel empowered to talk with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, if you’re struggling.
You can also chat, call, or text anonymously with trained volunteers at the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for free or explore the organization’s free and low cost resources.
Noom and WW are both effective for weight loss. However, one program may work better for you than the other, depending on your personal needs.
If you know you’ll need ongoing, long-term support and tools, WW may be a better option. Although WW is more expensive, it offers options like workshops and unlimited access to a personal coach for those who need more support and accountability.
Additionally, you can continue WW indefinitely, even after you reach your goal weight.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in learning how to make healthier choices on your own and want to eventually be able to discontinue food tracking or being on a program, Noom may be a better choice, as it focuses heavily on changing your habits and mindset.
Which is better, Weight Watchers or Noom?
Which is better really depends on what you like in a diet program and the type of support you prefer.
WW provides more resources and guidelines, so it’s better for people who need a structured program. WW also offers more support options, including in-person workshops (if they’re available in your area).
On the other hand, Noom encourages calorie counting, which makes it a bit less flexible than WW’s points-based system.
However, Noom also offers a unique focus on the psychology of behavior change and eating habits as they pertain to weight management. It may be a better option for people who want to see results as quickly as possible or prefer a more independent experience.
Which is more effective, Weight Watchers or Noom?
WW and Noom have both been shown to promote short-term weight loss in research studies.
Some of the research on WW was funded by WW itself, so there is a risk of bias in the findings. However, other studies not funded by WW have also noted that participants lost weight on the program.
Both WW and Noom appear to be effective for short-term weight loss, but research on the long-term effectiveness for either program is lacking.
Is Noom worth the money?
Many previous Noom customers would say it is. Noom has excellent customer ratings on websites such as Trustpilot.
However, it’s hard to say whether Noom would be worth the cost for you. The program offers a 7-day trial for as little as $0.50 if you’d like to try the service before you commit.
What is the best alternative to Noom?
The closest alternative to Noom is probably WW. They are comparable in price, and both focus on moderation, allowing you to include any foods you want as part of the program.
However, WW uses a daily points system, and Noom labels all foods green, yellow, or red, based mostly on their calorie content.
Noom and WW are both effective for short-term weight loss, although they take slightly different approaches.
Noom uses a color-coding system, while WW uses a points system to help steer you toward foods that are lower in calories and more nutritious.
However, either program may be difficult to follow if you choose to incorporate more high fat foods — even those high in healthy fats — into your diet.
If you’d like to learn how to make healthy food choices independently, Noom may be a better choice for you, but if you prefer long-term support, you may want to choose WW.