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Estimates of $550 million annually to help the Illinois state budget fund Medicaid and support community prevention of obesity is bringing a positive outlook for lawmakers, business owners and health advocates alike in regards to a new sugary drink tax proposal.
The sugary tax was introduced by Senator Mattie Hunter and Representative Robyn Gabel as of the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Proposal for the Illinois Budget.
Health advocates excited about the proposal, hope that funds raised will go to help offset the state’s Medicaid expenses and provide millions in funding for community health and prevention of obesity through a wellness fund for the community.
Currently, 62.2% of adults are overweight and 27.6% are obese and 1 in 3 children in the state are obese or overweight with Latinos being at 26.8%.
Research shows that Latinos consume more sugary drinks than their peers and that if current trends in childhood obesity go unchecked, one out of every two Latino children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, about 74 percent of Latinos have had a sugary drink by age 2 and Latino high-school students have 3 or more sugary drinks a day but with each extra sugary drink, the risk of becoming an obese adult jumps to 60%
Experts caution that children and teens who are obese can also face heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, cancer, and asthma and on a psychological level, they can be bullied and have low self-esteem.
Even business owners, who know the tax may impact their sales are looking positively on the tax, hoping that the funds will offset healthcare costs.
The HEAL Proposal also states that a small net increase in jobs (4,500) could happen when revenues are invested back into health.
Many groups support the tax, and a poll found that 65% Latino Illinoisans support the penny-per-ounce tax.
The tax proposal included in the budget proposal is to be sent and filled to the house by the first of February.
To learn more about the tax, click here.