Earlier this week, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) issued a consensus statement which reviewed the components of energy balance (simply put, calories in and calories out) and their implications for maintenance of body weight.  According to a news release, a key message from the statement is that “all components of energy balance, including energy intake and expenditure, interact with each other to impact body weight.”  Not surprisingly, this hasn’t received much in the way of media attention – but you can read about it on FoodNavigator.com.

So why is this consensus statement important?  For a number of reasons.  The authors point out that the “complexity of the energy balance equation” helps to explain why reversing the nation’s obesity epidemic has been difficult.  In fact, that complexity also dispels the myth that “the obesity epidemic is a result of a few ‘bad foods.’”

The consensus of this group of experts also counters the theory that if you reduce caloric intake by 3,500 calories without making changes to the “calories out” part of the equation, the result will be a one pound weight loss. This is important for those who are advocating for overly simplistic and ineffective approaches to curbing obesity, like soda taxes – which just won’t work.  The authors note that “it is inappropriate to use the 3500 kcal per pound rule to model the effects of interventions.”  They illustrate this by noting that a “40-kcal/d (170-kJ/d) permanent reduction in energy intake resulting from taxing sweetened beverages has been predicted to result in ~20 lb (9 kg) of weight loss in 5 y according to the 3500 kcal per pound rule, whereas only 4 lb (2 kg) of weight loss is predicted using the new rule of thumb.”  We know…that’s a lot to process.

So what does it mean?  Taxing soda would result in a loss of four pounds – that’s right, four – over five years.  That seems quite discouraging for someone serious about losing weight –and ineffective when it comes to the public health challenge of obesity.  As we’ve said for several years now, taxing soda simply isn’t the solution.