Dry January tops Google searches for first day of 2018

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Designer diets and new gym memberships are the traditional stuff of New Year resolutions but most Brits are looking to quit alcohol, according to data from Google Trends.

Figures from the online search giant show a spike in searches across the UK for “dry january” on New Year’s Day, far higher than other terms or phrases normally associated with fat-fighting and fitness fads.

But Dr Matthew Cole, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise nutrition at Birmingham City University, said he hoped people would find some healthier habits for their whole year instead of just the start.

“People probably feel they over indulged over the last few weeks,” Dr Cole told the Press Association.

“A better approach is not just having a better January but a more sustainable approach the whole year round.”

Dry January, the keto diet, the paleo diet and exercise were among the most popular search terms for new year's resolutions
Google Trends data shows many Brits are looking to quit drinking in the new year. Data shows relative number of searches compared to the peak for “dry january” on New Year’s Day (Google Trends)

And people across the UK were more likely to search for “gym membership” or “gym near me” than specific diets in the post-Christmas period, according to the data.

“Gym memberships will shoot up now but half of them will quit by March,” said Dr Cole.

“And it’s the same with diets.

“The best diet overall and the best exercise regime is one that you can stick to. There’s no magic diet that works for everyone.”

When broken down into regions, people in England were more interested in searching for “gym near me”, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland searched for information about the keto diet. People in Wales, on the other hand, were more likely to search for “dry january”.

But the most important idea for people who want to get fit in the new year is to find habits which create a calorie deficit, said Dr Cole, and which people fell comfortable sticking with.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s creating a calorie deficit whether through exercise or diets or a combination of both.”

While Google does not give raw data about the precise number of searches across the country, users are able to see the relative interest in different search terms and phrases over time.

Unsurprisingly, fitness is a main concern as the country moves into 2018.

“If most people just did a moderate amount of exercise and kept an eye on what they ate then they would feel a lot better,” said Dr Cole. “That’s all it takes.”

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