Noom vs. Weight Watchers: Cost and more compared

The start of a new year brings the promise of a clean slate, and the prospect of becoming a new you. You can resolve to save money, read more, travel more, quit smoking or get healthier. But fitnessĀ and wellness resolutions are the most popular goals people commit to on Jan. 1.

Almost everything lives on our phones now, and a quick internet search will bring up a few dozen apps that aim to help if losing weight, getting healthier or focusing on fitness is your New Year's resolution. Before you download anything, it's important to do some research about what you're signing up for.

One of the traditional weight-loss programs is Weight Watchers. After almost 60 years, the program made the digital transition and rebranded itself as WW in 2018, putting more of a focus on health and wellness than dieting (at least when it comes to marketing). Another app that has surfaced over the last couple years is Noom, which has called itself "Weight Watchers for millennials."

While there are other apps you can use to track your diet and exercise -- including some free apps that may be built into your phone, like Samsung Health or Apple Health -- if you're considering WW or Noom for your dieting and fitness goals, here's what you need to know.

The bottom line

When it comes to choosing between WW and Noom, think about which program would work best for you and your lifestyle. Scientific studies back up both programs: A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports examined nearly 36,000 Noom users, and found that the app drove sustained weight loss in 78% of people across a nine-month period. A 2011 study published in the Lancet medical journal found that overweight patients told by their doctors to do WW lost around twice as much weight as people receiving standard weight loss care over 12 months.

Researching both apps before you get started is important. In addition, it's important to take inventory of yourself, taking into consideration why you want to lose weight. One of the things I liked about Noom is that it asked me why I was using the app. When I entered the answer, it asked why again. Another answer was met with another why. This let me examine myself and my motives more deeply. I recommend doing this even if you don't use Noom.

I used WW first, and then tried Noom, and it was a bit of a jarring experience to go from having zero-point foods to counting calories again. It's important to remember that you can't live on zero-point foods alone, but not all calories are bad. Noom also wanted me to weigh myself everyday, while WW only prompts you to weigh in once per week. I understood on some level that this was to establish habits and so you can see how weight naturally fluctuates, but as someone who has had an unhealthy relationship with a scale in the past, it wasn't the best practice for me personally. It's easy to obsess over the slightest weight change that really doesn't mean anything besides water or the fact that you're wearing jeans.

I've done WW on and off for the past several months, but I only tried out Noom for about a week. I wasn't as keen about the price of Noom and the low number of calories it recommended for someone my height. In addition, an article by a registered dietician about Noom raised a few questions for me.

Again, it comes down to what program you feel most comfortable with. Don't be afraid to try both since there are free trials, and if you don't feel comfortable with something, discontinue it or consult a doctor. WW has been around longer, but Noom has a lot of promise. It went beyond "Eat this, don't eat this" and incorporated an educational element for sustaining healthy habits. It's a bit more expensive, but includes more features. However, I found WW more forgiving and easier to follow.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.