Searching for Weight Loss

October 11, 2008 · 8 comments

Weight Loss Searches

I was playing with Google Insights for Search recently (which I like a lot better than Google Trends, by the way) when I came across this very interesting graph.

What you are looking at (and if you click through on the graph you will see this live on Google Insights) is the Google search history for the phrase “weight loss” going back to 2004. The x-axis of the graph represents the months of a year and each different colored line represents the search volume for that given year. The y-axis of the graph represents search volume.

There are a few interesting things to note.

First, start at the right of the graph, which represents December. You will notice that every year going back to 2004 (as far back as the data goes, I’m sure the trend looks the same going back farther) there is a huge spike in search volume for the phrase “weight loss” that carries into the start of January, which is on the left of the chart.

Second, that surge does not last long, steadily falling in the month of January at which point the search volume plateaus and it stays relatively stable for about 6 months. Then starting in July search volume slowly declines until it reaches its low point in December at which sometime in the middle to the third week of December there is yet again another huge spike in search on weight loss.

Third, notice that the blue line at the bottom of the graph, the one that is following the historical trend but at lower volume, is this year, 2008. That’s why it ends in October. :-) What’s interesting to me here is how consistently lower than previous years volume the search history has been. An anomaly, given that people are bigger than ever, from what I read. Maybe people don’t care as much this year for some reason?

So what does this all mean? Well it really supports a very common picture that I see in people struggling with their weight. Great intentions at the beginning of the year, motivated by New Years Resolutions, some amount of success for the first 6 months or so and then a steady return to normal before it’s time to start the weight loss cycle again.

Don’t let this be you! If you need to lose weight and aren’t doing anything about it, don’t wait until January to do something about it, start now. Don’t let yourself be like the masses who fall off the program in six months. Find other people from whom to get support, whether it is online blogs or local Weight Watchers meetings.

Do what you can to break out of the cycle shown on this chart.

Good luck!

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MizFit October 11, 2008 at 5:28 am

or dragging an accountability partner into your goals :)

I HEAR YOU and it’s almost funny (if I hadnt done it so often) how easy it is to chuck everything NOW and figure you’ll start anew in Jan!

Yep, accountability partner would be good too! I’m not sure if it is funny or sad, but it’s pretty clear that for the general population that’s what happens - give it a go, take a break, get re-motivated and try again.

Bill Wallace October 11, 2008 at 6:48 pm

John, great observation. While each of us are individuals we really are a predictable bunch! :)

Alexia October 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm

I did read that the numbers of people on diets in the US are lower this year than in recent previous years. Someone did a study. All kinds of speculation as to why.

Steve v4.7 October 12, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Keen observation, John. It’s also interesting (only to me, I’m sure) that the graph dips sharply during my personal dates of note: birthday, anniversary, annual reunion/BBQ, kids heading back to school, big tail-gaiters, Thanksgiving. Not that I personally account for any amount of internet traffic, just interesting.

Andrew is getting fit October 13, 2008 at 1:57 am

Christmas is a time for stuffing ourselves eh! Not this year!

Joe S. October 15, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Thanksgiving through Christmas we shovel the food down our throats and Jan 1st we make a promise to change but it doesn’t last very long. You can see this if you have ever been to the gym in January. Its loaded to the gills but its a different story in March. The best promise we can make is to be healthy now and not wait for January to roll around!

Review This Weight Loss Program October 19, 2008 at 6:58 am

Hear hear! I can surely relate to this one! How often have I planned on a total overhaul of my diet and exercise program, then slowly but surely abandon it after a few short months? This topic is painful to read for me, but maybe I need the pain to get me back on track. I’ve also started researching a few weight loss programs to get me started. Thanks again for this eye-opening post!

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