Diné College on the Navajo Nation will receive a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a tribal nutrition program. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the project is designed to combat high rates of diabetes and other health problems.
According to the Indian Health Service, an estimated one-third of Navajos are diabetic or pre-diabetic. The disease was the Navajo Nation’s fourth-leading cause of death from 2003 to 2005, and obesity rates there have also spiked.
The project titled “An Intervention to Promote Navajo Gardening, Nutrition and Community Wellness” will be funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The program will study and encourage local subsistence gardening through Diné College, which has several campuses throughout the Navajo Nation.
Also, today Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed legislation to raise sales tax on junk food there by 2 percent. Supporters say the move is another attempt to reduce the rate of diabetes and other health problems associated with diet among Navajos. The junk food tax will be in effect until 2020 and the Navajo Nation Council will have the option to extend it.