Diet trends
Working out of my New York office this week, I think I've discovered the cause of my end-of-year weight gain. I haven't given it much thought, but since I'm writing about the hot diets for 2010, weight loss and calorie consumption have been top of mind.

Walking through our office, every table and counter is crowded with homemade holiday cookies. While writing this column today, I journaled my holiday treat caloric total. During the course of the day, I've consumed more than a thousand extra calories as I absentmindedly grab treats during the workday.

My own eating habits aside, seasonal online diet interest is one of the most fascinating areas of behavioral patterns. Search term data reveals that "diet" searches are highly repeatable events. Our diet searches peak on January 1 every single year. (The peak, by the way, typically lasts for four days. An indication of our dieting staying power.) With brief increases that coincide with swimsuit seasons, such as spring break and summer, our "diet" searches reach a low point every year on the highest caloric holiday: Thanksgiving Day.
As New Year's Day nears, search trends for 2010's diet craze are already emerging in our search patterns. This year’s #1 diet search, with nearly three times the volume of searches than its closest competitor, was a bit of a surprise. Using search terms as my guide, analyzing 8,323 unique diet searches, I'm predicting that 2010 will be the year of the "Jesus Diet." Below is a list of the top 10 diet searches from a four-week period in 2009:

Top 10 Diet Searches (four weeks ending December 12, 2009)

1.Jesus Diet
2.Diabetic Diet
3.Atkins Diet
4.Mediterranean Diet
5.Gluten Free Diet
6.Cabbage Soup Diet
7.HCG Diet
8.South Beach Diet
9.Acai Berry Diet
10.Biggest Loser Diet

Source: Experian Hitwise

I'll admit I was completely unaware of the Jesus Diet. Some quick research reveals that variations of this diet have been around for several decades, with the most recent version made popular by Dr. Don Gilbert's 2002 book, What Would Jesus Eat.
There's little indication in our data as to what led to the surge in Jesus Diet interest this year. One possible explanation could be tied to the increased interest in religious online content that we’ve seen over the last two years—a trend that is tied to our declining economy.

Other notable dieting trends for 2010, last year's top diet search " Acai Berry Diet " has fallen to the bottom of this year's list. "Atkins Diet" and "Cabbage Soup Diet" have also declined from last year’s list.

Going into 2010, diet searches are concentrating more on diets specific to medical conditions such as "diabetes diet," "gout diet" and "heart disease diet." These are gaining popularity as we search for ways to take control over our conditions.

As for myself, given this week's observations, I've developed my own holiday-specific diet: the No Holiday Cookie Diet, which I'm going to start right after this one last sugar cookie.

Bill Tancer is an Internet trend analyst, columnist and author of the New York Times best-seller Click—What Millions Do Online and Why It Matters .


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