Insider is reporting that infamous weight loss app Noom is laying off a significant number of its coaches as it shifts its strategy. The company, which presently enables users to engage in text chat with experts, will reportedly shift to a system of scheduled video calling, reducing the need for so many workers. Internal documents suggest that the people who remain will see higher workloads to cover for the departures. 180 coaches are believed to have already been let go, with a further 315 due to join them in the coming days. Individuals who take voluntary severance can expect eight weeks’ pay, although the site says that Noom will not cover the cost of unused vacation days.
Noom, which garnered $540 million in fresh venture funding in 2021 saw its business surge as a consequence of the pandemic. TechCrunch reported that the platform had earned $400 million in profit across 2020 as users flocked to its promised mix of live coaching and CBT-inspired practices. Its critics, however, believe that Noom’s unique spin on weight loss is nothing more than a standard heavily-restrictive diet, packaged in the language of wellness. In 2021, Noom branched out into mental health coaching under the banner Noom Mood.
As FastCompany outlined last year, Noom’s key metric is calorie restriction, tasking men to limit their intake to around 1,400 calories per day. (There’s a lot of debate about the proper calorie limit for weight loss, but that figure is seen as problematically low and well below what the CDC recommends.) Last year, an Outside investigation found that Noom was not tailoring its recommendations to the age, height and weight of its users, instead issuing a stock limit for the majority of participants. That same investigation found that there is little pre-screening for people who may have lived with disordered eating beforehand. Casey Johnston, who writes She's A Beast, has also called into question Noom's advertising practices, potentially misleading customers as to its effectiveness.