PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 16, 2019 — The American Heart Association presented its inaugural America at Heart award to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney today at the Association’s annual Scientific Sessions, the preeminent gathering of cardiovascular researchers and advocates. Mayor Kenney was honored for his administration’s work improving access to critical education and community services and enacting a progressive tax on the distribution of sugary drinks.
America at Heart is the American Heart Association’s new national award recognizing leaders who make game-changing contributions to improving health equity, health outcomes and well-being in the places where people live, work, learn and play. The award aligns with the Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
In 2016, his first year in office, Kenney was integral in leading Philadelphia to become the first major city in the U.S. to pass a tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages. The city is using the revenue generated through the tax to invest in quality pre-K education, renovations to city parks, recreation centers, libraries and other initiatives to improve social influencers of health.
“Mayor Kenney’s tireless efforts in support of a sugary drink tax in Philadelphia are improving the health and well-being of the city’s children and families,” said American Heart Association President Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA. “We commend him for his leadership, which has inspired efforts in states and communities nationwide to pass similar policies that reduce sugary drink consumption.”
Sugary drinks are associated with increased risk of developing chronic health conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Every year, 40,000 people living in the United States die from heart problems as a result of consuming too many sugary drinks.
Within months of Philadelphia’s 1.5 cents-per-ounce sugary beverage tax taking effect on Jan. 1, 2017, consumption dropped nearly 40%. To date, funding from the tax has supported 6,000 children in quality pre-K programs, 17 community schools and 64 ongoing projects to rebuild parks, recreation centers and libraries.
“Providing quality education and safe community spaces for our kids to learn and grow is the cornerstone of a healthy foundation,” said William Gray, M.D., president of the American Heart Association’s Philadelphia board. “We applaud Mayor Kenney for his dedication to the well-being of our city’s children and for understanding that systematic policy change can improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians.”
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The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. Scientific Sessions 2019 is November 16-18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. More than 12,000 leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists and allied health care professionals from around the world convene at the Scientific Sessions to participate in basic, clinical and population science presentations, discussions and curricula that can shape the future of cardiovascular science and medicine, including prevention and quality improvement. During the three-day meeting, attendees receive exclusive access to over 4,100 original research presentations and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Education (CE) or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits for educational sessions. Engage in the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media via #AHA19.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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