On February 19, the American Heart Association, as a member of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, supported the introduction of the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act at a press event in Springfield. The HEAL Act would raise revenue for wellness and Medicaid through a penny-per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Robyn Gabel and Sen. Mattie Hunter (HB 5690 and SB 3524) to fight the Illinois obesity epidemic and invest in our residents' health. The HEAL Act is estimated to raise over $600 million for prevention and health care.
"We know our communities are suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It is critically important to generate revenue to invest in solutions to these complex problems, especially in communities that are burdened the most by these diseases," said Representative Robyn Gabel (D-18th District).
Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single biggest source of added sugar in the American diet. Each day, more research continues to show the harmful and dangerous impacts of sugar. Sugar found in sugar sweetened beverages not only raises one's risk for chronic disease and obesity, the human and financial toll is a burden we can no longer afford.
Studies show that an excise tax like the one in the bill may reduce consumption of sugary beverages. A study in Illinois found that in just one year, the excise tax could lead to a 9.3% reduction of childhood obesity, could reduce 3,400 new cases of diabetes, and may save taxpayers more than $150 million in state and private healthcare spending.
As we work to support this bill during session, please let us know if you have any questions or if you are willing to help support the HEAL Act by emailing us here.