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When Denisa Livingston and a group of Navajo women started to dance the Zumba in front of their council chamber, it raised a few eyebrows among the North American tribe. The Latin dance-inspired aerobic workout was just one way of raising awareness about how exercise and healthy food can help an obesity and diabetes epidemic among Native Americans.The health implications for the Navajo are dramatic.The Healthy Dine Nation Act 2014 imposes a 2 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and on foods high in salt, fat and/or sugar such as chips, candy, pastries and fried foods.The tax has raised more than $4 million for the Navajo Nation since coming into effect in 2015, boosting efforts to reverse a nutrition crisis, where diabetes affects one in three people, said Livingston, whose organization spearheaded the law.However, only half of the shops selling such foods comply with the law, Livingston said.Such foods tend to be very cheap and targeted toward poor communities.Across Navajo communities, these foods have caused mental, physical and spiritual damage, as traditional practices were lost for decades, Livingston said.
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