UnitedHealthcare’s Real Appeal

August 18, 2017

Weight Loss that’s Free. A Difference that’s Real.


Real Appeal is UnitedHealthcare’s proprietary, 52-week intensive lifestyle intervention program that focuses on helping participants lose weight and maintain weight loss with the ultimate goal of preventing or mitigating obesity related issues such as pre-diabetes, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The program is delivered live over the Internet and combines entertaining and educational videos, live virtual coaching and online group participation. Real Appeal is customized to meet the preferences of each participant to maximize outcomes and results. The program supports an organization’s desire to target obesity related conditions and the cost of poor health associated with them. Participants receive access to all of the tools they need to succeed in the program. These tools may include a unique and customized kit, an integrative app, popular nutrition and exercise tracking software, a printed nutrition guide, a blender, printed books, and DVDs that parallel the video content and a fitness guide.



UnitedHealthcare (UHC) makes it easy for customers to operationalize Real Appeal. They have already defined the essential components of their proven-effective communications strategy for Real Appeal, and promotional materials are available and ready to be customized. They have an extensive choice of emails, postcards, fliers, table tents and posters that can be easily customized. All materials are built into the cost of the program.

All they need is your commitment and support in coming up with a promotional plan and calendar that uses the approach and tactics that will be most effective within your culture and most motivating to the targeted employee group. Ideally, you’ll also appoint an internal champion to help drive awareness of Real Appeal and to participate in meetings with the UHC team as they introduce and deliver the program.


Enrollment and Personalization

Members enroll in the program by signing up on the Real Appeal website and scheduling an online “personalization session” with an expert. The initial personalization session, conducted using live, face-to-face video conferencing, is designed to introduce and connect the individual with Real Appeal. It is a critical step in driving commitment and accountability. The session also helps the expert match the participant with the program best suited to his or her specific clinical needs and ability to succeed.

UHC offers two program levels based on the member’s risk status.

At-Risk for weight related diseases:

  • BMI ≥ 30 with no medical exclusions; or
  • BMI 25 to 29.9 with a qualifying comorbidity (diabetes, pre-diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, tobacco user) and no medical exclusions
  • Not At-Risk for weight related diseases

Anyone who is not at-risk who wants to lose weight, except those with medical exclusions:

  • Pregnant
  • Nursing an infant
  • Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa (presence or recent history)
  • Severe liver, heart, kidney, neurologic, psychiatric or any sever chronic or acute illness
  • BMI < 19

To begin, the expert establishes a rapport with the participant by asking a variety of questions to help determine the member’s health status, goals and motivation, as well as how much time he or she is willing and able to commit to the program. The expert will ask for height and weight, in order to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI), and will also assess weight-related risk factors for pre-diabetes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other comorbidities. As part of the session, the expert also assesses the participant’s readiness to change. The type and intensity of the program delivered to the individual is based on the participant’s willingness to engage. 

The expert explains the program and answers any questions the participant may have about the program. Following the personalization session, participants receive an at-home kit and have a weekly group-based session, live over the Internet, as well as the opportunity for additional 1:1 personalized coaching as often as they need it.


At-Home Kits

Following enrollment into the program and attendance at the first group session, an at-home kit is mailed to the participant. The kit contains valuable tools to support the participant throughout the program—such as an electronic body weight scale, electronic food scale with bowl, resistance band, water bottle, measuring cups and spoons, portion plate, measuring tape, pedometer, session guide, nutrition guide, food blender and workout DVD’s.

Workout videos, which can be streamed online and are provided on DVD in the home kit, accommodate a full range of activity levels, starting with three minutes a day, three times a week and increasing in intensity to 30 minutes, seven days a week. Participants can select the level most realistic for their needs at each phase.


Online Tools

The Real Appeal website includes the following tools to help achieve sustainable long-term weight loss:

  • A nutrition guide that includes meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, and tips to dine at home or at restaurants with healthy, sustainable eating habits.
  • Video workouts and a fitness guide that incorporate cardio, resistance training, balance, and stretching.
  • Trackers to help participants monitor nutrition, food intake, exercise, changing moods, cravings and feelings of satiety.
  • Synchronization with devices such as a participant’s Fitbit or Jawbone activity tracker.

In addition to the trackers and the wealth of other information available to the participant on the Real Appeal website, members can click a link on the site to connect to the app store or Google play and download a mobile Real Appeal app for their smartphone, iPad or tablet—making it even easier to use the tools and interact with a coach. The app is available at no cost to the participant and includes all features of the website version.

Online and mobile activity tracking tools are visible to both the participant and his or her Group Sessions.

Participants join in a group session each week, using a live format facilitated by the web-cam enabled app, live over the Internet. Participants can also choose to participate by voice only. In the group sessions, the same coach who works one-on-one with the participant also leads his or her group of participants through engaging, real-time, online weekly 30-minute meetings. Group coaching sessions live over the internet also includes educational and entertaining videos featuring celebrities and health experts.


Online Coaches

Participants may also choose to set up on demand individual coaching sessions by using an online pop-up calendar, which shows the coach’s availability. Because coaches are located nationwide, participants can schedule their sessions at a time that is convenient for them, between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern. The weekly coaching sessions are conducted in an online, live over the Internet format .In the ongoing meetings, the coach can make any needed program adjustments to ensure the participant’s success as circumstances and needs change. The ability to view the participant’s food and activity trackers live through the online system helps the coach understand the participant’s patterns and choices—and further promotes accountability. Based on what the participant has tracked, the coach asks questions and makes suggestions. For example, if a participant has dined out several nights in a row, the coach might discuss how to make smart food choices at restaurants. To help track activity, the participant can use the pedometer we supply in the home package. In addition, the online system syncs with devices such as a participant’s Fitbit or Jawbone activity tracker, giving the coach another data point for supporting and encouraging activity. Not only do participants have the option to meet with their personal coach in the regular weekly sessions, they also have on-demand access to the coach for support, whenever and wherever they want, online or via a Real Appeal mobile app on a smartphone, iPad or tablet.



From participation in Real Appeal, participants will have developed an ongoing path towards a healthy lifestyle, weight loss and medical expense savings through disease prevention or mitigation. With strong marketing and promotion, engagement rates may exceed 20 percent, and ROI can average 2.0:1 over three years .After one year, Real Appeal had more than 100,000 registered participants. Of at-risk participants that attend a minimum of 4 sessions, 82 percent lost weight.* The average number of pounds lost per person was 10 pounds and 46 percent of participants had clinically relevant weight loss (5 percent or more), putting them on a path to reduce their risk for weight-related health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Additionally: survey data shows a satisfaction score of 4.83 out of 5 (5 on the scale is listed as “amazing” *Results for Real Appeal book of business as of December 30, 2016. ¹Real Appeal is now provided free of charge on most insured UnitedHealthcare group policies.