Noom receives backlash after former users claim the app promotes diet culture

Noom receives backlash after former users claim the app promotes diet culture
App claims to help users lose weight through a psychology-based approach

Noom: the app designed to help you lose weight, or give you an eating disorder according to former users. The weight loss programme is trending on Twitter after users reacted to the app’s recent ad campaign. The video shows a young man finishing every last bit of food on his plate, only to learn from Noom that he was conditioned to finish his plate since childhood. “When it comes to losing weight, it’s psychological,” the voiceover says.

Noom is a subscription-based app that “uses science and personalization to help you lose weight and keep it off for good.” According to its website, Noom uses a combination of psychology, technology, and human coaching to help users meet their personal health and wellness goals. The core belief behind Noom is that losing weight starts with training the mind. However, some see this as perpetuating diet culture and unhealthy relationships with food.

The conversation began when a Twitter user said, “every noom ad is like “we’re NOT a diet. we’re an eating disorder :)”

This prompted users to share their personal experiences with the app. One Twitter user who goes by the name Jess revealed she is a registered dietitian, but claimed she was turned away from a job by Noom for having “too much experience.”

Another called out the weight loss programme for coaching her to eat only 1,200 calories a day, even though she was four weeks postpartum and exclusively breastfeeding. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily calorie intake for women in the US is around 2,000.

“Noom has always been a consumer-first company, and we continuously listen to and learn from feedback,” the company said in a statement to The Independent.

“Today’s social conversation reflects the long history and deep emotions around the failed industry of diets that aren’t backed by science, that don’t work, or are focused on the short-term. We are not categorically anti-diet, but there are unscientific, fad diets that we are in opposition to.”

While Noom includes aspects of a diet in its programme, such as dietary recommendations and caloric guidance, the company says it is more than just a diet because they are in contrast to traditional dieting methods.

Throughout the Twitter thread, many users also claimed they had suffered from eating disorders when signing up for Noom.

“We take eating disorders very seriously, and actively work to avoid causing harm to or triggering someone who has experienced a harmful relationship with food in the past,” the company said in the statement, denying that it allows those with diagnosed eating disorders to sign up for the app.

The anti-diet movement has gained momentum in recent years, causing weight loss programmes like Weight Watchers to rebrand and distance themselves from dieting. “I have several friends who were happy with Noom, and good for them,” tweeted Yvette d’Entremont. “But just like every other diet system that claims to be different or a revolution or ‘not a diet,’ it’s absolutely a diet. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the marketing is absurd.”

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