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ANZ J Surg. 2018 Dec;88(12):1274-1278. doi: 10.1111/ans.14772. Epub 2018 Sep 2.

Using Google Trends to explore the New Zealand public's interest in bariatric surgery.

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Department of Surgery, South Auckland Clinical Campus, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Department of Native Hawaiian Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, Tāmaki Campus, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.



Bariatric surgery, in recent times, has gained media attention that has influenced individual, healthcare provider and wider societal attitudes towards bariatric surgery. Studies exploring public and media levels of interest in bariatric surgery have been performed overseas but studies within New Zealand (NZ) are scarce. Analysis of Google Trends data may be a useful source of information in investigating public interest levels in bariatric surgery. We aimed to analyse Google Trends information on Internet searches in NZ and to explore sequential relationships with relevant changes in policy.


Key search terms for our Google Trends query were retrieved by independently reviewing news articles relating to bariatric surgery in NZ published between January 2007 and December 2017 and following a brainstorming session. Trend analyses were performed using Microsoft Excel 14.7.2. Data were captured for both NZ and worldwide search interests in Google Trends.


Trend analyses showed that total search volumes for 'lap band' and 'lap band surgery' declined while 'gastric sleeve' and 'gastric sleeve surgery' increased exponentially over the 10-year period. Furthermore, search interests for key terms in NZ were comparable with those worldwide.


Our findings reveal that search interests related to bariatric surgery in NZ mirror those worldwide. This includes the popularity of some bariatric procedures over others. The use of Google Trends may provide us with an additional tool to evaluate public interest levels related to bariatric surgery in NZ and could add value in examining the socio-cultural and political contexts of obesity and bariatric surgery.


bariatric surgery; mass media; public opinion; trends


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