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Although a similar bill did not pass the state legislator last year, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter and Rep. Robyn Gabel introduced the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act to provide tools and resources for Illinois families to live healthier lives. The bill is would generate more than $600 million a year for investment in communities across the state through a small tax on sugary drink distributors and is supported by the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.
“This is an important piece of legislation for the health of Illinois communities, especially those most devastated by sky-high rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Sen. Hunter said in a press release. “African Americans have the highest heart disease mortality rates in the state and Latinos are twice as likely to develop diabetes as Caucasian Americans. Across Illinois, low-income communities of all types face great barriers to being healthy. The HEAL Act provides communities with tools that help children and families live healthier lives by increasing access to more affordable fruits and vegetables, creating safe and accessible opportunities for physical activity and implementing other evidence-based measures to promote health.”
The HEAL Act places a penny-per-ounce excise tax on high-sugar beverages (those with more than 5 grams of sugar per 12 ounces) and uses the revenues to invest in expanded opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. This includes more nutrition and physical education in schools, more affordable and accessible foods at farmers markets, and more bike lanes and sidewalks for residents to be active.