Popularity of surgical and pharmacological obesity treatment methods searched by Google users: the retrospective analysis of Google Trends statistics in 2004-2022

Published: 6 April 2023| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/wk7nv8sz98.2
Mikołaj Kamiński, Maja Miętkiewska, Matylda Kregielska, Pawel Bogdanski


Background Many individuals search for obesity treatment options on the Internet. We aimed to analyze the popularity of pharmacological and surgical obesity treatment methods searched by Google users. Methods We used Google Trends to identify topics representing: recommended surgical methods (n=9), recommended pharmacological methods (n=10), and not recommended pharmacological methods (n=34). The data was generated for 2004-2022 and 2020-2022. Relative Search Volume (RSV) was adjusted using "Gastric bypass surgery" as a benchmark. We analyzed the geographical and temporal trends of the topics. Results In 2004-2022, the topics representing recommended surgical methods numerically gained the most popularity among Google users, but in 2020-2022 the recommended drugs exceeded other obesity treatment methods. The most popular individual topics since 2004 were "Flaxseed", "Spirulina", "Carnitine", "Bariatric surgery", and "Orlistat". The most dynamic increases of searches since 2004 were observed for "Sleeve gastrectomy", "Curcumin", "Psyllium" and "Bupropion / Naltrexon". Since 2018, topics representing GLP-1 analogs such as "Semaglutide" and "Saxenda" revealed exponential increases in RSV, causing that "Semaglutide" to become the 4th most popular topic in 2020-2022. Conclusions Google users across the world were the most interested in topics representing bariatric surgery, but recently recommended drugs for the treatment of obesity gained the most attention. The most popular individual topics were dietary supplements with uncertain effects on weight loss. Professionals should recommend reliable Internet sources about obesity.



Uniwersytet Medyczny imienia Karola Marcinkowskiego w Poznaniu


Obesity Medicine, Internet, Bariatric Surgery