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The State of Fitness in America: Just Analyze Google

By Marc Perry / February 7, 2019

Because I’m interested in how people seek fitness information online, I regularly check Google’s keyword tool, which shows how many times per month people search Google for words, or phrases. By searching for fitness related phrases, we can peek into the American psyche that reveals interesting insights into how Americans approach their health.

I was searching for the keyword phrase “lose weight” and came up with the top 15 results ranked by the average number of searches per month for the trailing 12 months (U.S. search volume):

Notice anything unusual? Besides the 6,600 people who are searching for “laxatives to lose weight” each month (that’s news to me), more than half of these keywords refer to “fast” or “quick” weight loss. These search results highlight one of the insidious problems with public perception and searching for the quick fix.

Likewise many companies that sell fitness products cater to the “quick fix” mentality by promoting unrealistic results. It’s no surprise that the top selling fitness products online are supplement scams that show bogus before/after photos and promise easy, fast weight loss.

Let’s search for another phrase “weight loss”. Here are the top 10:

This keyword is better, but I think I’m getting the point across. While it’s encouraging that 18,100 people are searching for “healthy” weight loss, it’s sad that 33,100 people every month are looking for that magic pill. It’s difficult for consumers to understand the basic principles of healthy eating and exercise when they are deluded with false information and grand promises from get-thin-quick schemes.

In my mind, this is partly a reflection on American culture in which we seek immediate gratification. I love convenience and immediate gratification as much as anyone, but unfortunately, that’s not how body change works. Real, lasting change requires patience and a plan.

If you’ve been following my articles and read my free Get Lean Guide, by now I trust you are convinced that programs that guarantee quick results are not desirable. You are built lean and you can look great and feel amazing following a sensible approach to improving your health.

So the question becomes, what can we do about this? Can we change public perception that feeds on sensationalistic media stories and the search for the quick fix?


  • R4i says:

    It wuold be interesting to see some sort of scientific study into what the correlation betwene the searches and obesity actually is.

  • Hank says:

    Great research and insight into the basic problem. I agree that weight loss needs to be a continuous process that is sustainable. There is no magic pill and supplements are just that supplements and not the answer. Your discussion of calories is amazing and clearly shows that to get lean we have to eat intelligently.

  • James says:

    The FDA needs to update its nutritional baselines; the carb-heavy approach has done nothing to curb weight-loss or metabolic syndrome.

    • Marc Perry says:

      Hey James, I agree the USDA guidelines need to be reworked. In addition to the carb heavy approach is the types of carbs that are acceptable under the USDA guidelines. I would also add it seems that 95% of food that's cheap and accessible to most Americans has the nutritional value of cardboard, maybe worse (i.e. potato chips, candy bars, cereals etc.)!

      Thank you for your comment and participation. You may consider checking out an article I wrote about an alternative Food Pyramid created by Harvard Medical School: http://bit.ly/au88Kr.

  • Dave says:

    I like the article. what can be done to change the state of fitness?

  • Dave says:

    I think the saddest part is that while "lose weight" might get 201,000 hits, that is the exact same number of people searching for "funny cat videos". Seriously, look it up. Now what does that mean, Marc???

    • Marc Perry says:

      Couple things to BuiltLean.com readers:

      1) Website Exceeded Bandwidth 6/26 - The flood of traffic from Digg.com and other social media sites caused BuiltLean.com to exceed it's bandwidth (which was far lower than I realized), so my website was inaccessible between around 5-6am to 3pm EST on Saturday (6/26). I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and I'll try my best to make sure this doesn't happen again!

      2) Opt-In Box - Some people have pointed out that the opt-in box promoting my free 10 Cut report has a bullet point that describes getting faster results in less time. I changed that bullet point (which should be up momentarily), because I agree I think it can be misconstrued. What I meant (if you read the 10 Cut report) is that there are ways to signficantly cut down the amount of time you workout while still leading to better results. I believe the best workouts are short, intense, and efficient, which help get the best results possible.

      Thank you everyone for your feedback!

  • Mario says:

    People need to learn to cook using fresh ingredients, have three proper meals a day and cut down on snacking, and do a bit more exercise, i.e walk. That'll solve this problem, you don't need the FDA or any other government organization getting involved. Look at other nations such as Japan, France, Germany, Spain, actually most of Europe (except Britain) are healthier and live longer than the average Amercan, it ain't magic. The reality is everybody deep down knows exactly what to do, but they are too lazy to act on this knowledge.

  • Charlie says:

    People are always looking for a quick fix but nothing beats slow and steady

  • Mary says:

    Your workout strategy has definitely helped me get back into shape in a relatively short period of time. Quick fixes do not work, I have tried them. Being patient and putting in the time and effort gets the best long lasting results. Your articles have been very helpful in educating others about the importance of fitness and eating healthy to achieve the best results. Hopefully, through education, the quick fix mindset can be changed.

  • Toni says:

    How about the numbers of times someone types in: 'How to get a six pack fast'? That must in the hundreds of thousands, at least. I also hate all the infomericals promising you a "rocking hard body" in a very short amount of time. They have fitness models parading around on camera claiming to use the equipment and it upsets me because you know they work their butt off doing all sorts of other exercises to look like they do. The media perpetuates the need for thinness/perfection and offers these "quick fixes" when it's just not true. It took a long time for you to become a couch potato and it will take at least half as long to undue the damage. Plain and simple. When there's no pain, there really is no gain.

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Toni - that's a great idea. I do plan on adding another post about this topic, so I will certainly keep the "six pack fast" in mind. I know first hand that many fitness infomercials do use fitness models who let's say got a little out of shape, but then get ripped as they have done many times. The infomercial world is a very interesting conversation and one I'm learning a lot more about. It's BIG business and BIG money, but unfortunately typically involves questionable marketing tactics.