Changes in food pricing and availability on the Navajo Nation following a 2% tax on unhealthy foods: The Healthy Diné Nation Act of 2014

Carmen George, Carolyn Bancroft, Shine Krystal Salt, Cameron S. Curley, Caleigh Curley, Hendrik Dirk De Heer, Del Yazzie, Regina Eddie, Ramona Antone-Nez, Sonya Sunhi Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction In 2014, the Navajo Nation Healthy Diné Nation Act (HDNA) was passed, combining a 2% tax on foods of 'minimal-to-no-nutritional value' and waiver of 5% sales tax on healthy foods, the first-ever such tax in the U.S. and globally among a sovereign tribal nation. The aim of this study was to measure changes in pricing and food availability in stores on the Navajo Nation following the implementation of the HDNA. Methods Store observations were conducted in 2013 and 2019 using the Nutrition Environment Measurement Survey-Stores (NEMS-S) adapted for the Navajo Nation. Observations included store location, type, whether healthy foods or HDNA were promoted, and availability and pricing of fresh fruits and vegetables, canned items, beverages, water, snacks and traditional foods. Differences between 2013 and 2019 and by store type and location were tested. Results The matched sample included 71 stores (51 in the Navajo Nation and 20 in border towns). In 2019, fresh produce was available in the majority of Navajo stores, with 71% selling at least 3 types of fruit and 65% selling at least 3 types of vegetables. Compared with border town convenience stores, Navajo convenience stores had greater availability of fresh vegetables and comparable availability of fresh fruit in 2019. The average cost per item of fresh fruit decreased by 13% in Navajo stores (from $0.88 to $0.76) and increased in border stores (from $0.63 to $0.73), resulting in comparable prices in Navajo and border stores in 2019. While more Navajo stores offered mutton, blue corn and wild plants in 2019 compared to 2013, these changes were not statistically significant. Discussion The findings suggest modest improvements in the Navajo store environment and high availability of fruits and vegetables. Navajo stores play an important role in the local food system and provide access to local, healthy foods for individuals living in this rural, tribal community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0256683
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number9 September
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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