Illustration of woman relaxing in a pool.

Kathryn Kaiser, Ph.D., has read thousands of obesity studies. She has yet to find a way to melt away weight with “one weird trick.”

“The average effect in many weight-loss studies using lifestyle interventions is generally in the two- to four-pound range, although there is wide variation,” said Kaiser, a health psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior in the School of Public Health. “You might get nine or 10 pounds with medications or more intensive lifestyle modification.”

You wouldn’t learn that in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. “We’re looking at magazines that tell us we can lose 20 pounds in 20 days,” Kaiser said. “There’s a picture of some great-looking person and all we have to do is buy the magazine to find out their secret. The media know that our society is obsessed with miraculous, quick solutions, even though science has shown that slow, gradual and modest changes are the answer. Unsustainable behavior can keep people in an unhealthy pattern.”

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