Battling Diabetes and Heart Disease, Navajo Nation to Introduce Country’s First Junk Food Tax

Revenue from the two percent tax will be used to create community wellness programs

The Healthy Dine Nation Act will go into effect on April 1. (Photo Modified: Flickr/Cory Doctorow/CC 4.0)

Beginning Wednesday, April, the Navajo Nation is set to introduce the first-ever tax on junk food within the United States, spurred by the growing prevalence of diabetes and obesity within the Nation, reports Civil Eats.

On the Navajo territory — spanning 27,000 square miles and three states — most communities are food desserts, where fresh produce is rarely to be found, and a great number of families have access only to the food at local gas stations or small general stores.

According to a study from the Navajo Indian Health Service, 25,000 Navajos suffer from diabetes, and 75,000 are pre-diabetic.

In April, the tribe will introduce the Healthy Dine Nation Act of 2014, signed last November by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. The measure will add a two percent sales tax on junk food including fried foods, soda, sweetened beverages, and other products deemed to have “minimal to no nutritional value,” sold on the reservation. In turn, the revenues generated will hopefully be used to create wellness programs like community gardens, greenhouses, and farmers markets. 

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