Navajo Nation makes headlines as first with tax on junk foods

President Ben Shelly signed the Healthy Diné Nation Act into law in November. Photo by Rick Abasta / Office of the Navajo Nation President

The Navajo Nation is set to become the first government in the U.S. with a tax on junk foods.

Starting tomorrow, the tribe will collect an extra 2 percent tax on sugary foods that are deemed to have little or no nutritional value. Revenues from the 7 percent tax will go into a special fund to promote farming, gardening, wellness and other projects to address diabetes and obesity on the reservation.

The bill also eliminates the 5 percent tax on fruits and vegetables. The goal is to get tribal members to eat more healthy foods on a reservation where a third of the population is either diabetic of pre-diabetic.

"Diabetes is an enemy that we will conquer by fighting this war together." President Ben Shelly said when he signed the Healthy Diné Nation Act into law last November.

The Dine Community Advocacy Alliance and other health advocates on the reservation lobbied for the law. But tribal members who spoke to The Los Angeles Times don't seem excited about the additional tax.

"Less money for fruits is nice, but it doesn't even out," Ann Neagle told the paper. "For people on a fixed income, we can't afford things to get more expensive."

"It's not going to do anything except make it more expensive," Preston Yazzie added. "I'll still buy chips or whatever. But maybe it'll help some people."

Get the Story:
Navajo Nation will impose first junk food tax in country to fight health problems (The New York Daily News 3/31)
Navajo Nation sees tax on junk food as way to combat health problems (The Los Angeles Times 3/30)
Tax On Junk Food, A Move To Fight Obesity (Health Aim 3/31)
First Junk Food Tax Is Here (Money Talks News 3/30)
This Place Just Became the First Part of the U.S. to Impose a Tax on Junk Food (Time 3/30)
Project on Navajo Nation focuses on gardening skills, eating habits (The Farmington Daily Times 3/29)
The Navajo Nation Will Soon Have the Country's First-Ever Junk-Food Tax (Mother Jones 3/25)

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