January , 2019

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CHICAGO, IL – More than 140 physicians from Illinois’ leading pediatric health organization, the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP), announced their endorsement today of the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Act. The HEAL Act invests in community prevention and Medicaid, through a small tax on sugary drinks.

The group includes pediatric chairs from the state’s academic medical centers, researchers, medical school faculty, subspecialists, pediatricians in training, and primary care physicians who see the adverse health impacts of sugary drinks on patients and their families every day. Nearly one in three children in Illinois is overweight or obese.

As Illinois faces a budget crisis, the HEAL Act can raise an estimated $600 million to prevent cuts in Medicaid and invest in healthier kids. “In our view, these revenues should be targeted to critical clinical prevention and treatment services in Medicaid for childhood obesity and oral health that would lower state spending on health care,” said Alejandro Clavier, a Co-Chair of ICAAP’s Health Care Advisory Group on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.

Additionally, funds raised from the HEAL Act should be invested in community prevention. These efforts would include, for example, improving access to affordable fruits and vegetables and providing kids more options for safe places to play so that all youth can be active and healthier.

“The contribution of sugary drinks to obesity in children is now clearly established,” stated Goutham Rao, a Co-Chair of ICAAP’s Health Care Advisory Group on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. Sufficient scientific evidence demonstrates that decreasing consumption of these drinks reduces the prevalence of childhood obesity and costly obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Further, sugary drinks cause cavities, behavioral problems, and the risk of poor bone health.

The physicians endorse the Healthy Eating and Active Living Act because it will promote healthier children, families, and communities in Illinois.

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