It could be a wedding, a high school reunion or a tropical vacation. We’ve all had that moment when an upcoming event makes us wish we could instantly drop 10, 20 or 30 pounds.

As panic sets in, ads featuring before and after shots of weight-loss success stories capture the imagination, and we muse: “If Mike Bullardlost 30 pounds in seven weeks, why can’t I?”

Despite studies saying Americans are getting fatter every year, people are obsessed with weight loss, and the business of losing weight has ballooned into a $30 billion-a-year industry in the U.S. How much would you be willing to spend to lose 30 pounds?

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to weight-loss programs. The key is finding a program that fits your lifestyle and budget. Of course, you could always go the old-fashioned route, reducing calories and increasing exercise, but many dieters benefit from added structure and support, not to mention the accountability that accompanies an organized program.

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