Navajo Nation looking to enact 'Junk Food Tax'

Posted at: 02/04/2014 6:38 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On the Navajo Nation, health is a problem.  

“Native Americans, especially Navajos have a two to three  times rate for obesity and diabetes than the national average,” said Denisa Livingston.

 Livingston’s group, Diné Community Advocacy Alliance, is pushing for change.

The group proposed two legislations-- one raises tax on junk foods by two percent.

Livingston said, “We are very concerned, citizens for our community, especially concerning diabetes and obesity. “

The other reduces tax to zero on healthy foods like fresh fruit, vegetables and water. The Navajo Nation council approved both.

People KOB Eyewitness News 4 talked to support the legislations.

Holly Holyam lives in Shiprock.

“We need to understand because obesity is causing us a lot of health problems, like diabetes,” said Holyam, “it’s just not good.”

Opponents argue higher taxes will force customers to buy lower-priced unhealthy snacks in border towns.

“If you look at the very remote places, I'm sure they will not be driving to border towns,” said Livingston.

Livingston said there is more work to be done.

“We are so excited because of what people are calling a defeat against soda industry.”

Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly is expected to sign the pair of legislations into law.