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“Googling” is now ubiquitous in our society. We typically start searching on Google before wemake purchase decisions or when we have interest in certain topics. Aggregating these searchdata can provide us with real-time and possibly accurate information on people's behavior. Infact, Google keeps tracks of all the search queries and has accumulated a tremendous amount ofinformation about people's interest at the society level. It currently provides search volume dataof keywords for different regions and time intervals on its free and public service of GoogleTrends. An interesting and hot research area is how to exploit the Google Search volume data ininnovative ways to benefit our society. This paper aims to reveal the connection between obesityprevalence and people’s online search behavior in the United States by combining data fromGoogle Trends and data from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which isupdated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) annually. We first handselectedkeywords that are associated to people's life style and used panel data model to studyassociation between search pattern and obesity level. We found significant correlation power ofthose keywords with Body Mass Index (BMI) level and results suggest great promise of the ideaof obesity monitoring through real-time Google Trends data. We believe this is an importantfinding and is particularly attractive for government health institutions and private businessessuch as insurance companies etc.

Subject(s): Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety

Health Economics and Policy

Issue Date: 2014-06

Publication Type: Conference Paper/ Presentation

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 33

Record appears in: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) > 2014 AAEA/EAAE/CAES Joint Symposium: Social Networks, Social Media and the Economics of Food, May 29-30, 2014, Montreal, Canada

Autor: Sarigul, Sercan ; Rui, Huaxia


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