Speak Your Piece: About ‘Mountain Dew Mouth’

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When tobacco was found to be both addictive and unhealthful, it was regulated and the companies agreed not to market to children. Well, how about Mountain Dew?


news, February 17, 2009, and was surprised to see Diane Sawyer sitting in Charles Gibson’s chair. I usually watch ABC News but this replacement for Charles Gibson caused a little problem for me since I’m trying to avoid Diane Sawyer after the “A Hidden America, Children of the Mountain” documentary on 20/20. I suppose you could say I am upset with her. I’m from rural West Virginia not Eastern Kentucky but we share a unique and fighting kinship.

The show did bring to light the health problem, tooth decay, caused by drinking Mountain Dew soda. It is thoughtful that PepsiCo is now offering services to the area by donating funds for another traveling dental clinic in the region as well as offering help in recruiting dentists for the area. But why in heaven’s name is a company permitted to mix up and market a soft drink, Mountain Dew, enjoyed by all ages, that contains an extremely addictive substance and is so damaging to a dental health that a pet name has been coined to describe it, a term reserved for Appalachians with rotten teeth: “Mountain Dew Mouth”?

Shouldn’t the Food and Drug Administration investigate the company that makes and markets this beverage and demand a mandatory label be placed on each bottle warning of the possibilities of addiction and dental decay? Perhaps those warnings will be part of the education PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi referred to on the evening news. She expressed concern “about any overuse or misuse of the soda among small children.” On most products having a harmful effect on children you will find a warning label “keep away from children.” I don’t believe Mountain Dew provides any warning label or instructions for consumption.

Americans everywhere, not just in Appalachia, are battling obesity, addictive foods, sugary drinks and tobacco. Citizens and state governments have put the squeeze on tobacco.

when he referred to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1960s War on Poverty, which was launched in Inez, Kentucky. “At this point, we’ve been addressing poverty for 40 years,” Mullins said. “If we aren’t gaining any ground, isn’t it time to revise our strategy?”

The people of Appalachia, all the people, deserve a fair shake.