Last week, in response to their 10 percent obesity rate, the Navajo Nation government implemented a two percent tax on fried food, chips, candy and soda on the reservation. The tax, which is part of a larger initiative called the Healthy Dine Nation Act, also eliminated a five percent sales tax on fresh produce, seeds, nuts and nut butters. The revenue from this first-of-its-kind tax, will go towards community greenhouses, farmer's markets, and vegetable gardens.
While these efforts seem to have good intentions, some residents—42 percent of which live below the federal poverty line—are concerned about how the tax will affect their finances. Resident Ann Neagle told the Los Angeles Times that although the price cut on fruits and veggies may be “nice”, it doesn’t make up for the tax on the other foods that so many locals depend on to survive. "For people on a fixed income, we can't afford things to get more expensive," explains Neagle.
Making healthy food more accessible and affordable is definitely a step in the right direction, and we’re interested to see how the tax affects the residents’ health. If the obesity rate declines, other cities and states may consider following suit.