Google searches using the keywords weight loss have increased, while those using the word obesity have decreased, potentially suggesting that obesity could be on the decline, slowing inching the society back to normalcy, according to a recent data on Google trends. The new research was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria.// The study is by Dr Aditya S. Pawar from the Mayo Clinic Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Rochester, MN, USA, and colleagues.
Dr Pawar and colleagues studied data of awareness about obesity over the last twelve years worldwide. They used Google Trends which is based on the number of times worldwide the terms ’Obesity’, ’Weight loss ’and ’Obese’ were searched for using Google between 1st January 2006 and 31st December 2017.
The program assigns a reference value of 100 for the point of maximum popularity among the search terms, and provides relative monthly scores for all terms, which were termed relative interest scores (RIS).
The results found that the for the search term ’obesity’, the mean RIS consistently decreased with each quartile. While the search term ’weight loss’ RIS consistently increased with time.
The term ’weight loss’ appeared to be especially popular during the month of January and its median RIS for January (n=12months) as compared to other months (n=122 months) was higher during the entire study period (88 vs 72), a result which was statistically significant. The RIS for term ’obese’ did not change significantly over the study period.
"While this may be secondary to New Year’s resolutions centered around a healthy lifestyle, the specific reasons for the increased interest in certain months should be explored and applied to awareness campaigns for better effectiveness. While formal studies are required to best characterize these phenomenon, the use of Google trends certainly provides valuable data to assess the public awareness and possibly health related campaigns, which are vital to the success of managing obesity at the global level."