In small study, Noom’s mobile coaching platform shows promise in reducing hypertension

By Dave Muoio
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A mobile hypertension prevention program (HPP) delivered through Noom’s mobile health coaching service appears to significantly benefit users with consistently high blood pressure, according to a study conducted by the company and recently published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.

In fact, greater engagement with the HPP resulted in even higher reductions in weight and blood pressure, suggesting that Noom’s platform could be an effective intervention for those with hypertension or prehypertension.

“This is the first study to demonstrate that adults can lower their blood pressure to the normal range by using a mobile platform,” Dr. Tatiana Toro-Ramos, study author and senior academic researcher at Noom, told MobiHealthNews. “Our research should provide hope, help, and guidance to people living with hypertension or prehypertension, regardless of their medical history or experience. No single participant in our study had the same medical history yet the vast majority lost weight and achieved a blood pressure level within a normal range by participating in Noom's mobile Hypertension Reduction and Prevention Program”

Noom’s platform is pitched to consumers and providers as a behavior-changing tool for weight loss, fitness, and diet management. Along with supplying nutrition and health information, the Noom Coach app pairs users with human coaches to develop personalized curriculums for healthier daily living. Noom has already developed a behavior change platform designed to assist diabetes patients that appeared successful in clinical trials, and was the first fully mobile diabetes prevention program to be recognized by the CDC.

Now looking to explore the platform’s efficacy in cardiovascular care, Noom’s researchers — along with those from study sponsor Aetna and the University of Arizona — administered an HPP to 50 hypertension or prehypertension patients. Participants received a 24-week program that included bi-weekly phone calls with a certified human coach, meal logging, regular blood pressure tracking, activity logging, and educational material.

The participants were primarily female, and 80 percent completed the full 24-week program. By the end of the intervention, the researchers saw a significant decrease in participant’s weight (more than five percent of baseline body weight), their diastolic blood pressure, and the number of participants meeting the clinical definition of hypertension. Further, when they analyzed the data for user engagement, they found that patients with higher levels of app engagement had even greater weight loss and also demonstrated significant reductions in systolic blood pressure.

More frequent weigh-ins and meal logging, as well as program completion, were all predictors of higher risk reduction, leading the researchers to suggest that self-monitoring through the app was a key factor for participants’ favorable outcome. They wrote that these results reiterate the platform’s previous success in managing the weight and diet of diabetes patients, and support its effectiveness in short-term hypertension risk reduction. However, the study is also limited due to its uncontrolled and observational design, they noted, and the platform will still need long-term validation for this indication.

“Mobile delivery of a lifestyle intervention for hypertension showed short-term potential … supporting the need for longer studies to investigate the use of mHealth lifestyle modification to reduce the risk of hypertension, a public health priority,” the researchers wrote. “A randomized controlled trial should be conducted for a more thorough evaluation of the mobile technology approach for delivery of the HPP.”