Studies show many Americans bulked up during the first year of the country’s prolonged battle with the novel coronavirus. And this past year, they looked to drop those pounds, translating into more visits to content pages related to weight loss than to the pandemic itself. 

Weight loss scored highest on the list of the top 20 most-read health and medical content topics online this year. Articles spanning popular diets to burning fat to diet recipes drew the greatest share of consumer eyeballs.

Coming in a close second was COVID-19 content, ranging from vaccines and immunization to coronavirus risks and boosters. 

The list was compiled by Tap Native, a content discovery platform (think content recommendation services like Taboola and Outbrain, but with a focus on health). To determine which topics were viewed most, the firm analyzed over 2.2 million unique URLs across the top 100 largest health websites in its network, which includes sites like, and

Weight gain has been a major medical consequence of the pandemic. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, the 42% of U.S. adults who gained weight between March 2020 and February 2021 added an average of 29 pounds. Nearly as many patients lost weight (18%), subtracting an average of 26 pounds.

Despite the popularity of the phrase “COVID-15,” referring to the 15 pounds supposedly gained by many individuals during the quarantine, an analysis of medical records showed only about 10% gained more than 12.5 pounds over the course of the pandemic.

Other topics that scored highly on Tap Native’s analysis of billions of content pages were depression (No. 3), hypertension (No. 4) and mental health, including anger, stress and anxiety, and sleep disorders (No. 5).

Here is Tap Native’s complete list of the most popular health topics of 2021.

20. Epilepsy

19. Stroke, TIA, blood clot, prevention

18. Chronic kidney disease

17. Dietary supplements & vitamins

16. Cancer types, diagnosis & treatments

15. Digestive, gut health, Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis

14. Alzheimer’s, dementia diagnosis & care

13. Respiratory illnesses, COPD, asthma, bronchitis

12. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga

11. Alcohol/tobacco/drug use and cessation

10. Arthritis, carpal tunnel

9. At home workouts, fitness, exercises

8. Lowering cholesterol, statins, heart disease

7. Beauty topics, skin health, hair loss

6. Diabetes, lowering blood sugar

5. Mental health including anger, stress and anxiety, and sleep disorders

4. Hypertension

3. Depression

2. COVID-19, COVID vaccine, immunization, Coronavirus risks, boosters

1. Weight loss, popular diets, burning fat, diet recipes