A week of America's fad diet searches

New Year's Resolutions You Will Never Keep
New Year's Resolutions You Will Never Keep

Following the gluttony of the holiday season, many Americans are resolving to live more healthily in 2016. Good job! Except step two tends to be "googling diet options," at which point it all goes to pieces. In the week since New Year's Day, Google Trend data shows an unsurprising increase in the number of people Googling "diet" throughout the country. Here's what they found.

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The highest percentage of searches were made in West Virginia and Mississippi, which are two of America's three most obesity-afflicted states. It may seem promising that these paunchy places are looking to trim down, but further analysis of what they searched for (hint: terrible, terrible fad diets) suggests that people in these states are likely to be making the exact same guilty google searches in early 2017, when their weight yo-yos back to the same point after their diets don't work.

2016_01_07 DietsByStates KK.r2

Vocativ found that while the paleo craze that began in 2013 is still going strong in nearly half of all states, New Englanders are searching for info on the dietary habits of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Southerners, meanwhile, are jumping on the patriotic-sounding but ultimately 100 percent junky Military Diet, a three-day regimen of incredibly low-calorie meals that's marketed as "a fast way to lose up to 10 pounds a week." (Side note: You will find those pounds again very quickly, and there is no clue as to how this diet relates in any tangible way to the U.S. military)

Though the paleo diet has drawn fire due to its restrictive nature and meat consumption allowances, scientific studies have found it effective in reducing weight and cardiovascular risk factors. Nutritional experts widely agree that cutting processed foods in favor of nutrient-dense natural ingredients is never a bad thing.

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The Tom Brady search craze seems to be a direct result of a recent Boston.com Q&A with the baller's personal chef. His organic-only, plant-based diet excludes sugar, white flour, iodized salt, and a slew of potentially inflammatory (but otherwise healthy) ingredients, like tomatoes and mushrooms. More than likely, fans are searching Brady's regimen out of curiosity, rather than any real desire to replicate the unrealistic and expensive diet.

In the South, where traditional local fare is already regarded as heart unhealthy by the American Heart Association, the Google searches for dieting raise further concerns. Although the Military Diet (or 3-Day Diet Plan, as it is also known) could lead to short-term weight loss, WebMD warns that the restrictions are dangerously low and may limit vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and encourage overeating on the four off days allowed by the diet. Not surprising, given the fact that it recommends one slice of bread and a half cup of tuna for lunch on day one and hot dogs with ice cream for dinner on day two.

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Fad diet searches have spiked since January 1, and Mississippi is the top-Googling state for six of them, including the highly dubious cabbage soup and apple cider vinegar diets. Mississippians are also the top Googlers of diet pills, the use of which is a generally bad idea. All of which bodes badly for waistlines in Mississippi, where the CDC reports that more than 35 percent of residents are battling obesity. Similarly, Alabamans are googling the dangerously low "1,200-calorie diet" more than anywhere else, and Louisiana residents show an increased interest in detoxing, which has a massive junk science factor.

The appearance of fad diets in southern states' searches is reflective of a larger regional problem. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion's findings that lack of access to healthy food options and socioeconomic conditions are among social determinants of poor health habits, it's not altogether surprising that southern states are struggling in this regard. The southern region of the U.S. has the highest poverty rates (and Mississippi has the lowest average income), which can coincide with food deserts and other factors that contribute to obesity.

The post A Week Of America's Fad Diet Searches appeared first on Vocativ.

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