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 best 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.
Both Noom and WW are designed to help you lose weight through moderating your food intake and making better dietary choices that will help you feel full and satisfied while promoting weight loss.
Noom is a relatively new weight loss program that’s based on the psychology behind your habits and food choices.
On the program, you complete a daily weigh-in so that 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. According to Noom, no food is off-limits. However, the program helps you focus on making healthier choices 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, engaging, daily lesson on habits, food choices, or psychology to help you better understand what drives your food choices.
Finally, you also have a weekly check-in with a Noom goal specialist. They are usually health coaches, but they may also be registered dietitians or certified personal trainers. These weekly check-ins can be brief or comprehensive, depending on your needs.
WW, which until recently was known as Weight Watchers, has been around since the 1960s and 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’re assigned a color — either blue, green, or purple — after taking a brief assessment.
These colors represent whether you have a lower or higher daily SmartPoints allotment. When you have a lower daily allotment, your list of zero-point foods, which you can eat freely, is larger. Here are more details:
- Green: higher points budget, zero-point foods include fruits and non-starchy vegetables
- Blue: moderate points budget, zero-point foods include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and yogurt
- Purple: lower points budget, zero-point foods include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, yogurt, and whole wheat pasta
According to WW, people in all three groups lose about the same amount of weight. The website is not explicitly clear about what factors go into assigning you to a particular group, but you have the option to switch into a different group at any time.
Additionally, WW offers tiered plans with varying degrees of support:
- Digital: basic, includes limited access to live support
- Digital and workshops: includes all digital benefits, plus access to a weekly online or in-person WW support group meeting
- Digital and coaching: includes all digital benefits, plus unlimited access to your own personal WW coach
In all WW plans, you’re encouraged to do a weekly weigh-in.
Noom focuses on behavioral changes and provides daily lessons and a color-coding system to help you make better choices. WW uses the SmartPoints system, and upgrade options grant you access to support groups and unlimited coaching.
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 over 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 over 7,000 men with overweight found that using Noom for 3 months resulted in an average loss of about 2 body mass index (BMI) points. Additionally, those who adhered to the program more strictly lost more weight (
On the other hand, a large review in over 29,000 people on WW found that one-third of the people lost at least 5% of their body weight, as well as 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 a control group that simply received an online newsletter (
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). However, it’s important to note that these two studies were funded by Weight Watchers, which potentially could have affected the results (
What’s more, 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.
Several large and small studies have found that both Noom and WW are effective for short-term weight loss.
Noom and Weight Watchers are similarly priced.
A single month of Noom costs $59, 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 this writing, the prices were:
- Digital: approximately $14 per month
- Workshops and digital: approximately $33 per month
- Coaching and digital: approximately $55 per month
The basic digital WW program is slightly less 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.
One year of access to Noom is comparable in price to the basic WW program. However, WW offers upgrade options that will increase the monthly price.
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 the lowest in calories.
Some of the foods that are zero points for certain WW groups or the green plan on the Noom program include:
- 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
However, remember that on the WW green plan, the only zero-point foods are fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Likewise, the zero-point food list is slightly more restrictive for the blue plan.
These foods would only be zero-point foods on the purple plan, but they would be low in points on the other plans.
On the other hand, foods that are high in WW points for all groups 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
No foods are off-limits on either program, but non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like egg whites and tofu are low in points or zero points on WW and green on Noom.
In addition to weight loss, Noom has several other benefits, the main one being that it helps foster a healthier relationship with food due to 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 poorer food choices even after you discontinue the program.
In one study, Noom was also shown to help with blood sugar management and have the potential to reduce heart disease risk (
However, keep in mind that no study has directly compared the effectiveness of Noom or WW on blood sugar management or heart disease risk. Therefore, a direct comparison regarding of factors isn’t possible.
One downside of Noom is that many high fat foods like oils and cheeses are red according to their color-coding system. These foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but they’re rich in calories due to 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.
WW can also help you learn to identify healthier food choices as you become more familiar with the SmartPoints system.
Like Noom, it includes a social component that appears to aid weight loss.
Still, WW may not help to improve your heart health. One review of commercial weight loss programs found that WW provided little benefit for heart disease risk factors, compared with a control (
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 WW points system discourages the consumption of fat, which may be difficult for people choosing to follow a lower carb, higher fat diet.
Finally, there’s a lack of evidence regarding long-term weight maintenance on the WW program. As with most diets, many people gain the weight back over time or after the diet has been discontinued (
Both Noom and WW may subtly discourage the consumption of healthy fats like certain oils, nuts, and seeds. Additionally, there’s little evidence regarding their long-term benefits for weight loss or weight maintenance.
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 of 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. These points can then be exchanged for prizes or fruit and veggie donations for families in need.
Both apps are available on Apple and Android devices.
The WW program is available in over 15 countries.
On the other hand, 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.
The Noom and WW apps have similar functionality, although Noom offers daily lessons, and WW provides an incentive program. Both are available on Apple and Android devices.
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 also offers options like workshops and unlimited access to a personal coach for those who need more support and accountability.
WW also can be continued 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.
If you want to stop using a diet program at some point, Noom may suit you better. Meanwhile, WW is designed to provide long-term support — even as you enter the weight loss maintenance phase.
Noom and WW are both effective for weight loss, although they take slightly different approaches.
Noom utilizes 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, both programs may be difficult to follow if you choose to incorporate more high fat foods, such as 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.