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Karen Aspry, MD, MS, Rhode Island

We would like to thank Rhode Island Board President Karen Aspry, MD, MS, who testified last month at the State House on one of the American Heart Association’s priority bills! We greatly appreciate Dr. Aspry’s passion, dedication and advocacy.  


Dr. Aspry, a cardiologist, endured two late nights at the State House to testify before the House and Senate Finance Committees on legislation that would impose an excise tax on sugary drinks.  Under the proposal, revenue from the tax would be deposited into a new Children’s Health Promotion Fund which could be utilized for outdoor recreation, physical education in schools, access to healthy foods and other evidence-based children’s health initiatives.  

In a press release, Dr. Aspry stated, “Sugary beverages now account for ½ of added sugar intake, and are linked to rising rates of diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity and other preventable illnesses that affect far too many Rhode Islanders.  These diseases are key drivers of high health care costs in our state.  Rhode Islanders already spend more than $550 million on obesity-related medical costs – more than half of these expenditures are incurred by the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Unfortunately, education alone is not enough to correct the market forces driving sugary drink consumption.  Many locales in the U.S. as well as Mexico and several European countries have enacted an excise tax on sugary drinks.  Early evaluations from Berkeley, CA, and Mexico show encouraging results - the tax motivated people to drink fewer sugary drinks and more water. Funds raised should be used for programs aimed at improving the health of our communities though exercise and physical activity, healthy food access, and other pressing needs.” 

The following article on our sugary drink tax/Children’s Health Promotion Fund bill was published in the Providence Journal:

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