Newtopia: Successful Weight Loss During Covid-19 with a Virtual Habit Change Provider Interview with: Ruby,
JD, MBA, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Leonard Fensterheim, MPH
Vice President of Analytics What is the background for this study? What are common weight-change findings during the pandemic? 

Obesity has been linked to increased risk of serious complications and the need for costly medical utilization – all of which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been an increase of imposed restrictions that impact healthy lifestyles – the closing of gyms as an example – leading to additional stress and the complete disruption of daily lives. It’s no surprise that many people have gained weight since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before the pandemic, about 40% of Americans had obesity in the United States. This was already an alarming figure, but given that the American Psychological Association found that 42% of U.S. adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 29 lbs. since the start of the pandemic, we expect that percentage has continued to grow.

Against this backdrop, Newtopia sought to evaluate the impact of a guided habit change program on weight loss for 12 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • This was a retrospective study that looked at 1436 participants who began participating in the Newtopia experience in early 2020.
  • This analysis focused on weight change and was restricted to those participants with a body mass index >
  • 52% of participants were female, and the average age of the total study population was 46.5 years old (±10.6).
  • The percentage of participants with a 4.3% weight reduction after 12 months was assessed. This has been shown to be associated with meaningful reduction in healthcare costs.
  • The average weight loss and the percentage BMI decrease was also assessed.



  • 77% of participants lost weight.
  • 44% of participants had a weight loss of >3%.
  • Average weight loss was 4.2% (p<.0001).
  • 22% of obese participants dropped a BMI category.

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals participating in the Newtopia habit change experience still achieved impactful weight loss. How would you describe Newtopia’s tech-enabled virtual habit change experience? 

Newtopia is a tech-enabled habit change provider focused on disease prevention and reducing cost of care for employers. As a provider of whole person care, we enrich mental health, resilience, and overall human performance while preventing, reversing, and slowing the progression of chronic disease. Newtopia leverages genetics, medical history, motivation, social determinants of health, personal preferences, goals and mental health to create individualized prevention experiences with a focus on type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and weight.

Participants in both the study and Newtopia’s programs are given access to a tech-enabled virtual habit change experience. Each experience is designed around participant’s health risks, genetics, medical history, motivation, social determinants of health, personal preferences, and goals. Participants also virtually meet one-on-one with their health coach, or “inspirator,” who is assigned to them based on a personality-matching algorithm. For sustainable and meaningful behavior change, inspirators intervene in their participants daily choices as it relates to nutrition, exercise, and well-being.

In addition to virtual coaching, participants also receive an e-scale, activity tracker, and have access to an interactive app. The interactive app allowed participants to record their goals and achievements, book and cancel coaching sessions and access a library of pre-recorded videos, educational tools and recipes. The focus is on building healthy habits to create a lifetime of good health.

When the pandemic began, Newtopia’s team of medical and clinical experts developed new content focusing on the pandemic and the stay-at-home lifestyle. Coaching prioritization shifted more to mental health and how to manage stress; there was more focus on at-home meal preparations and home-based activity recommendations. These modifications enabled participants to stay engaged throughout the pandemic. What are the main findings of the study?  What are the financial implications of the program?  

The main finding from this study is that even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals participating in the Newtopia habit change experience still achieved impactful weight loss. One-on-one coaching for healthy habit change is effective even in the unhealthy circumstances of last year. Given the personalized nature of the experiences we offer, we can be agile in recommendations and adjustment goals appropriately.

Newtopia has an in-year 2X ROI that was evaluated, and peer reviewed in an Aetna-sponsored randomized control trial (RCT) published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The RCT demonstrated a cost savings of $1,464 per participant within the first year from a reduction in medical and pharmaceutical spend. With our clients, we use available data like weight and biometric improvements as a proxy for savings when we don’t have access to claims data. Is long-term follow up with the program recommended? 

Habit change leads to sustainable health improvement. We continue to provide ongoing coaching for participants throughout their lifespan with us. The reliance on Newtopia’s inspirators, declines as they become more accustomed to setting goals and identifying where they can adjust behaviors. The Newtopia experience is not intended to be a quick fix. It is a lifestyle improvement.


Weight Loss During the Covid-19 Pandemic with a Virtual Habit Change Provider in an Employer Population

Newtopia presented these study results at the United Scientific Group’s 6th International Conference on Obesity and Chronic Diseases June 22, 2021

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD