The Fine Line Between Calories and Diets

Starbucks, which may hope its new calorie listings will create demand amongst the calorie conscious, should love graphs like this one from HitWise:

HitWise chart

As you might expect, the chart shows an increase in online searches for “calories” and “diets” the first week in January, when resolutions are fresh.

You might think that an April spike in “calories” searches is simply a harbinger of bikini season — but there’s no correlating spike this time with “diets.”

Does this mean that people are becoming more calorically aware — or perhaps replacing their fad diets with monetary incentives?

(Hat tip: Bill Tancer)

health is wealthier

OK Ape-ish-
I would like to see the variable weight gain added as a control. My friend likes the expression "live long and prosper" but as she get's older, she seems to be growing wider and wider on her no carb diet. So I agree, we are a "how do" leaden culture, but in the case of my friend, her liberty or control has caged her into a bigger and bigger box frame.


Why all the doom and gloom, friends? Clearly people simply choose their diet by March, continue to take interest in it by searching for calorie content information on the foods they eat, and have lost the desired amount of weight by November. Then Thanksgiving rolls around, and then Christmas, and a bird and a hog later they are able to restart this great anthropogenic, self-flagellatory tradition....

"America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!


I love the severe drop off of both searches in the November to December time frame. It certainly matches the behavior I see from my wife beginning at Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas.


I wonder. It's not the spike that seems unique, but the gap in April-Sept 07 that closes again. It's the only time that there's a real separation between "calories" and "diets."

What happened in April 07 that made people go looking into calories? Could that be when Bloomberg unveiled the calorie law in NYC?

Nick Johnson

Here's a (much more readable, IMO) chart from Google Trends:

It shows the same spikes, though the april spike seems much subtler.


The results from the Facebook Lexicon (what people post publicly on Facebook walls) is interesting - they show the opposite. Big peak for "diet" in January, smaller one in April. No peak for "calories" in either time period, although there's a big one last November. diet

health is wealth

you have a point Mat. People go up and down dieting and watching calories and things stay the same. No change. So what if people were told and retold the truth about diet, exercise- has to be a way of life- not a momentary fad?

what would happen to the neurosis? Mine went away-


Maybe a lot of the gap between calories and diets is attributable to people not so much interested in dieting for weight loss, but in modifying their caloric intake to whip that 'beach body' into shape. E.g., people (largely males, not women as many of us would tend to think) who are interested in calories for muscle-building are not necessarily interested in dieting?


Wow. The Google chart in post 1 looks like an EKG. The steady pulse-beat of our neuroses.


This shows that most people just search for one diet at a time and that we're not that ambitious after all.

Jack Neefus

The difference between the two lines in the spring and summer is interesting. It suggests that paying attention to calories may be a more persistent behavior (and thus more effective) than dieting.

On the other hand, once you go on a diet you may get the hang of it pretty quickly and no longer need to google the word.

In any case, there's still that huge seasonal difference. There are plenty of articles in Cosmopolitan on slimming down for summer, but I've never seen one entitled "Ten Tips on Fattening Up for Winter."