Diane Sawyer and 20/20 Suggest PepsiCo Responsible for Tooth Loss

In case you were unaware, soft drinks may be hazardous to your teeth.

ABC’s Diane Sawyer made that abundantly clear in a report during the Feb. 13 “20/20. The report was the product of two years investigating the poverty and adversity faced by residents of eastern Kentucky. Amid tales of closed coal mines, alcoholism and drug addiction, Sawyer found time to tackle tooth decay.

Sawyer conceded that the negative stereotype of tooth loss in the Appalachian mountain range is based in some fact. However, after naming diet and the lack of dental care as causes of tooth loss, she intimated that the real source was the popularity and high consumption of the soft drink Mountain Dew in the region. Dr. Edwin Smith, a dentist offering services to mountain residents, suggested that Mountain Dew is particularly harmful because of its high acid and sugar.

Sawyer stated Mountain Dew has fifty percent more caffeine than Coke or Pepsi. And, while caffeine has no correlation to tooth loss, she suggested that Mountain Dew is the soft drink permutation of Prozac. All that caffeine apparently leads people to drink the soda as an anti-depressant, and many are “addicted to Mountain Dew.”

The report featured children who’d never seen a dentist before rushing on to Casey, a resident with poor teeth who claimed he was trying to “get off drinking so much Mountain Dew.” At no point did Casey or the dentist claim that his dental issues are rooted in soft drink consumption.

Pepsi issued an initial statement to “20/20,” describing the report as, “…old, irresponsible news.” Sawyer’s report left the statement at that, neglecting to include Pepsi’s assertion that it is “...preposterous to blame soft drinks or any one food for poor dental health.”

Pepsi, unlike Ms. Sawyer, believes that, “It's about common sense, including a balanced diet and proper dental hygiene -- like flossing and brushing teeth after meals and snacks.”

Perhaps realizing the folly of asserting common sense in media circles, Pepsi sent a second statement to “20/20” with a more conciliatory tone. “Our products, consumed in moderation, can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. It's heartbreaking to see the impact of excessive or inappropriate consumption in combination with little or no dental care.”

The segment moved on from the soft drink peril, leaving Dr. Smith, in Sawyer’s words, “still doing battle with Mountain Dew.”