Public Awareness of a Plant-Based Diet Following the Release of “Game Changers” and “What The Health” Documentaries

Micah Hartwell, Trevor Torgerson, Ryan Essex, Ben Campbell, Danielle Belardo, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Poor diet is a leading cause of premature death and thus diet and lifestyle changes are needed; yet, no consensus exists regarding diets that provide the greatest benefit. One of these diets gaining popularity around the world is a plant-based, vegan diet. Recently, Netflix documentaries What the Health (2017) and The Game Changers (2019) have attempted to improve public awareness of veganism and plant-based diets. Methods: We used Google Trends to obtain data for keywords specific to plant-based diets, veganism, and documentary-specific terms over a time period before and after the release of the Netflix documentaries. We then created a forecasted model for trended search terms using autoregressive integrated moving algorithms and compared the actual trends to the forecast model to determine the effect of the documentaries on each selected term. Results: Search interest for the term “plant-based diet” increased significantly—2.8 times the mean forecasted value for What the Health (t = 12.892, df = 30.012, P <.001) and 2 times the forecasted mean for The Game Changers (t = 19.826, df = 30.118, P <.001). Additionally, following the release of The Game Changers, mean search interest for “plant-based athlete” was 2.8 times higher than the forecasted values. Conclusion: The documentaries What the Health (2017) and The Game Changers (2019) are associated with an increased interest in plant-based diets based on Google search trends, highlighting the need for continued research regarding plant-based diets and their health benefits related to chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Game Changers
  • Google Trends
  • plant-based diet
  • vegan
  • What the Health

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