HunterHEALHearToday the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee discussed the next steps for reducing obesity by offsetting the disproportionate marketing of sugary beverages to low-income families.

“Sugary drinks remain cheap and are marketed toward low-income families,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago,) Vice-Chair of the committee. “The state needs to address the obesity epidemic through healthcare initiatives and funding associated healthcare costs.”

Hunter’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act aims to reduce obesity within the state by using a penny-per-ounce excise tax to invest an estimated $600 million for prevention and health care.

Illinois faces a $3.4 billion health problem: 63.7 percent of adults are overweight, 27.7 percent are obese and it costs the state $3.4 billion per year to treat obesity-related health issues.

Lopsided marketing in low-income areas, increased sugar content and lowered prices make the beverages an attractive option for shoppers on a budget.

The HEAL Act would combat the targeted marketing by using $300 million to fund health care initiatives and community projects like promoting nutrition and providing better school meals. The other half would help restore funding to the state’s Medicaid program, which was cut by $1.6 billion in recent years.

Hunter’s next steps are continuing a two-prong effort of launching a nutrition-education town hall and working with colleagues to pass the life-saving measure.

Category: Press Releases

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