Today, members of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO) stood with Representative Robyn Gabel (D-18th District) and Senator Mattie Hunter (D- 3rd District) at a press conference to announce the introduction of a bill [HB 5690/ SB 3524] to fight the Illinois obesity epidemic and invest in Illinoisans’ health through a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugary beverages. Introduced with IAPO support, the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act is estimated to raise over $600 million for prevention and health care.
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.
The proposal places half of the new revenue into a Wellness Fund to support initiatives that promote nutrition, physical activity, school health and wellness, oral health, access to healthy foods, worksite wellness, and community-level public health leadership around obesity prevention. The other half of the funds will support the Illinois Medicaid Program, expanding the set of prevention services available to Medicaid recipients as well as restoring cuts to the program from previous years, such as coverage for adult dental 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).
Link to the full press release here.
Learn more about the HEAL Act here.
Learn more about the health effects of sugary beverage consumption here.