Looking to Slim Down, Noom Lays Off Nearly 500 Wellness Coach Staff

Looking to Slim Down, Noom Lays Off Nearly 500 Wellness Coach Staff
Photo: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP, Getty Images

This probably isn’t what they meant when they said “trim the fat.” Weight loss app Noom will be laying off 495 wellness coaches in total over the coming days, according to a report by Insider based on company documents.

An unnamed wellness coach, who was not a part of the cuts, told reporters that 180 coaches were already let go Thursday during a series of small-group video calls. The company plans to cut another 315 coaches through next week. The unnamed coach said that was nearly a quarter of its 2,000 wellness coach staff.

Laid off staff are apparently being offered eight weeks of voluntary severance pay, though that won’t include unpaid vacation time.

The company’s goal is apparently to scale back on text-based coaching and to manoeuvre them toward video-based coaching. Insider reported that the move will likely give each individual coach a bigger workload.

In a statement to Insider, Noom said “Parting ways with a portion of our coaching staff is a decision that we did not make lightly and we appreciate their contributions,” but added they would be continuing one-on-one coaching.

The company website proudly displays how its received high marks in past years for being one of the top tech workplaces on sites like Glassdoor and Fortune, though the recent cuts would represent a loss of nearly a fifth of U.S. staff. The 2,000 members of the wellness coach staff prior to the cuts made up over 80% of the company’s U.S. workforce of 2,439, according to Fortune’s numbers of employees. The company’s job page does not list any new coach staff positions available.

The coach job is essentially a person who text chats the user to offer advice and goals on how to change or eliminate eating habits. A Noom subscription is either $US59 ($82) a month or $US199 ($276) a year.

The mostly remote coach workforce were offered significant perks, according to Noom’s website, including the ability to choose their own hours. Insider reported that the company will shift to scheduled video-based calls that will likely require stricter timing from coaches. Reporters also cited unnamed sources that told them coaches were often stretched thin, inundated with hundreds of clients at a time.

Noom was originally founded in 2008, but the app saw a huge pump in revenue due to the pandemic, especially as people at home worked to slim down during lockdown. In 2021, the company was valued at $US3.7 ($5) billion, and saw $US540 ($750) million in investment, which the company used to also start working on mental health-related products.

Noom has promised weight loss without dieting, but calorie-counting apps like Noom have come under fire for its weight loss methods that mostly focus on reducing calories, even though the calculations for how much each individual should limit themselves is based on their size and daily activity. The app was bombarded by Twitter users earlier this year for what they called psychological manipulation, to which the company responded they were just trying to build healthy eating habits.

Gizmodo has reported on the inherent limitations of this calorie-counting fad before. Though there is much debate about how many calories someone should consume for healthy living, Fast Company reported the app advocated for men to consume less than 1,400 calories a day. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a trade association of food and nutrition professionals, recommends women consume between 1,600 and 2,200 and for men to take in 2,000 to 3,200, depending on overall daily activity.