Between March 2020 and February 2021, visitors to the NHS site rose by 100.6 million compared to the period March 2019 to February 2020. While COVID-19 accounted for the bulk of these visits (59.5 million), there were an additional 41.1 million general health queries, suggesting that Brits are proactively researching their symptoms.
Excluding coronavirus searches, ‘how to lose weight’ was the most searched health query between January 2020 and February 2021. As lockdown eases, interest in weight loss has continued; there were 165,000 searches for ‘how to lose weight fast’ in March 2021, up 123% against March 2020 (74,000).
In the same month, demand for ‘healthy meals for weight loss’ grew to 12,100 searches, up from 2,900 searches in March 2020. Likewise, April 2021 saw 14,800 searches for ‘best diet to lose weight’, up 49% year-on-year (9,900).
The eighth most asked health query was ‘how to stop drinking’. With many Brits upping their alcohol intake during the lockdown, it seems we now want to cut back with low and alcohol-free drinks instead.
In April 2021, searches for ‘non-alcoholic drinks’ were up 50% totalling 6,600 queries compared to 4,400 in April 2020. In contrast, demand for ‘alcoholic drinks’ was down 33%, dropping from 14,800 searches in April 2020 to 9,900 in April 2021.
As pubs prepare to welcome guests indoors this month, it’s interesting to see the types of alcohol-free drinks that are most in demand. Comparing April 2021 to April 2020, searches for alcohol-free gin are up 125% (8,100 searches vs 3,600), while non-alcoholic prosecco is up 81% to 2,900 searches. Both non-alcoholic wine and non-alcoholic cocktails saw a 22% increase in demand, up to 8,100 and 6,600 searches respectively.
Interest in gym memberships in April 2021 was at a similar level to a typical January, well-known as the busiest month for new memberships. Compared to April 2020, searches for ‘gym memberships’ grew 516%, receiving 14,800 hits in April 2021. To illustrate the scale of demand, general gym queries hit 3.6 million last month, compared to 364,000 in April 2020.
Salaman Haqqi, personal finance expert at Money, commented on the findings: ‘The pandemic and the restrictions placed to contain it have not only changed how we access healthcare, but how we view our own well-being.
‘Whereas previously we may have ignored symptoms or made poorer choices, the constant media spotlight on health has hammered home the importance of leading a healthy, active lifestyle.
‘Whether it’s booking regular check-ups or taking out health insurance for peace of mind, we anticipate this mindset shift will remain long after the pandemic ends.’
Top 10 most-searched health queries
How to lose weight
What is my BMI?
Why am I always tired?
How many calories should I eat?
What is fibromyalgia?
How to lower cholesterol
What is MS?
How to stop drinking
What is normal blood pressure?
How much vitamin D per day?
For more information on Britain’s health searches, visit their website.
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