UnitedHealth Group’s Real Appeal Launches an Interactive Personalized Weight Loss Program that Uses Celebrities and Technology to Motivate Participants

October 07, 2015
  • Real Appeal brought together some of the best minds in obesity and diabetes research with top talent in the entertainment industry to develop tools for the weight-loss program
  • Real Appeal pilot achieves weight loss among more than 70 percent of participants
  • No cost for Real Appeal participants whose employers offer the program through their health insurance plans

UnitedHealth Group’s Real Appeal is launching a personalized, interactive, online weight-loss program that uses personal coaches and a Hollywood cast to help motivate consumers to get ready for the Red Carpet. To see Real Appeal in action, click here.

The internet TV program is built on the findings of extensive clinical research on obesity and diabetes prevention that included more than 10,000 participants and $700 million in funding over 15 years.

Real Appeal carries no cost for participants whose employers offer the program through their health insurance plans. This is good news for employees, as well as for employers who can empower their employees to lose weight and be healthy, while saving money on health care costs.

Dianne Howard, director of Risk and Benefits Management, The School District of Palm Beach County, said: “We are proud to be one of the first organizations to offer Real Appeal to our employees, as we believe it can make a significant impact on the obesity population. This is a program that shows great promise in helping people achieve sustainable weight loss and better health.”

“Real Appeal is not only effective at helping people lose weight, it’s also about feeling great and having fun,” said Seth Tuckerman, CEO of Real Appeal. “And, by helping participants shed excess pounds, Real Appeal helps people avoid weight-related health conditions. That’s great news for individuals and also for employers, government health programs and the entire health system.”

To create its tools and content, Real Appeal brought together some of the best minds in obesity and diabetes research with top talent in the entertainment industry. The company’s team of 14 clinical experts includes:

  • scientists who led the NIH-funded weight-loss studies over the past two decades;
  • authors of more than 1,000 obesity research articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals;
  • medical doctors, behavioral scientists, psychiatrists and a doctor of health care economics;
  • Emmy® Award-winning television and film writers;
  • consumer health journalists; and
  • Oscar®-, Golden Globe®- and Emmy Award-winning actors, sports MVPs, celebrity chefs and best-selling authors.

Proven Results

Real Appeal tested its program with nearly 700 UnitedHealth Group employees in Ohio. The Real Appeal pilot realized 60 percent enrollment overall with high participation among those with a medical need to lose weight. Of the 60 percent of employees who enrolled, 89 percent were at risk for developing cardiovascular disease or diabetes due to their weight.

After 24 weeks, less than halfway through the 52-week pilot, more than 70 percent of the at-risk participants lost weight, and 37 percent had already achieved the target weight loss of 5 percent or greater. According to a study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by 58 percent with lifestyle changes and a modest weight reduction of at least 5 percent.

How Real Appeal Works

Real Appeal provides numerous tools and resources people need to succeed, including technology to deliver real human interaction, education and entertainment. The program offers an interactive weekly online television series and group discussion, followed up with live personal coaching. Coaches are available on-demand for one-on-one consultation and support, making it convenient and easy to participate.

Real Appeal’s weekly Internet TV show is based on evidence-based, scientific research combined with award-winning writers and on-screen talent. In addition to the live coaching sessions, the interactive program includes digital tools for mobile devices and web-based access, and a weight-loss kit with exercise DVDs, interactive scale, pedometer, blender, calorie and weight-loss trackers, fitness guides, literature and more.

The approach supports individuals taking lots of little steps and celebrating small “wins” along the way, week-by-week over a full year, that add up to big results that are sustainable in the long run. The idea behind the program is to provide proven weight-loss education in an accessible, positive and affirming manner to encourage long-lasting behavioral changes that can prevent weight-related health conditions — such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease — down the line.

Real Appeal’s star-studded video content includes appearances from: Susan Albers, best-selling author and clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic; Tom Arnold, actor and comedian, star of “True Lies”; Dr. Michael Breus, best-selling author of “Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan,” featured on Dr. Oz;  Rocco DiSpirito, celebrity chef and bestselling author; Vivica A. Fox, producer and film and television star; Daisy Fuentes, Cuban television host and model; Nomar Garciaparra, baseball icon and ESPN analyst; Jennie Garth, “Beverly Hills, 90210” star; Helen Hunt, Oscar-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-award-winning actress; Samantha Harris, former “Dancing with the Stars” host and correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight”; Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network show “Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger”; David Jack, fitness professional and sports performance and conditioning coaches; Lisa McCree, former co-anchor of “Good Morning America”; Mitra Manesh,  instructor at UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center; Jill Pollack, Host of HGTV’s “Consumed,” featured on Dr. Oz; Alfonso Ribeiro, actor who starred in “Silver Spoons” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and won “Dancing With the Stars” in 2014; Dr. John Sharp, on faculty at Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and best-selling author and co-host of “Rehab with Dr. Drew”; Justin Silver, star of “Dogs in the City”; and Dr. Ian Smith, former co-host of “The Doctors” and medical correspondent for “The Rachael Ray Show.”

Samantha Harris said: “I am proud to be working with people dedicated to helping individuals achieve sustainable weight loss and better health, and really make a difference to one of the biggest threats to the health of our country: obesity. It has been energizing to be part of the team creating Real Appeal, a weight-loss program that really works.”

About Real Appeal

Real Appeal uses clinically proven research together with an engaging online experience to deliver sustainable lifestyle changes at scale. Real Appeal is a pay-for-performance provider committed to helping people make the small changes necessary for larger long-term results. The program combines interactive videos, live online group discussions, and customized personal coaching to support participants with all the tools necessary for sustained behavior change. Real Appeal provides a fresh approach to avoiding the financial and human cost of weight-related diseases. It’s a truly revolutionary health care program for corporations and their employees.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.