“Stop Selling Out to Coke!” Dentists and Children’s Coalition Urge Pediatric Dental Academy

Date of Release: 

Monday, October 20, 2003

For More Information Contact:

For more information, contact:
Allen Kanner, Ph.D. (707)-824-1696

Alvin F. Poussaint, MD (617) 232-8390x2303

John Ruby, DMD, PhD (205)975-7003

“Stop Selling Out to Coke!”  Dentists and Children’s Coalition Urge Pediatric Dental Academy

            (Chicago)    Why did the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation (AAPDF) accept $1 million in “research” money from Coca-Cola at a time of growing concerns about the role of soft drinks in causing dental and other health problems for young people?  Because that question has no reasonable answer, a prestigious group of dentists, dental school professors, and children’s advocates today sent a public letter to AAPDF asking them to return the money and refuse such entanglements in the future.

            The letter reminds Academy President Dr. Paul Reggiardo and Executive Director Dr. John Rutkauskas that, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry itself, “easy access to sweetened, acidulatedcarbonated and non-carbonated beverages by children and adolescents may result in their increased consumption which, in turn, may contribute to increased caries risk and negatively influence overall nutrition and health.”  The American Dental Association reports that “soft drinks adversely affect dental caries and enamel erosion.” 

The letter asks AAPD to “[C]onsider carefully the message it provides the public, whether explicit or implicit, regarding the oral health of children.”  It concludes, “We find it hard to imagine a research funder less appropriate for the AAPDF than Coca-Cola, the world’s most popular brand of soda.  The implicit message this AAPD-Coca-Cola partnership sends to the American public is troubling:  If the protectors of children’s dental health – pediatric dentists – are teaming up with Coca-Cola, surely soft drinks cannot be harmful.” 

      As AAPD member and University of Alabama at Birmingham associate professor of pediatric dentistry John Ruby notes, “A partnership between the world’s largest producer of soft drinks and an organization founded to protect children’s oral health flies in the face of AAPD’s mission, not to mention common sense.”

      The letter calls on AAPD to immediately:

  • Terminate their current relationship with Coca-Cola and return the research funds.
  • Commit to refusing funding from any company whose products are known to contribute, or are suspected of contributing, to children’s poor oral health or poor general health.
  • Issue a strong statement opposing soda “pouring contracts” in schools.

      Many of the signatories are AAPD members.  The letter carries the endorsement of Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, the national coalition of  health care and education professionals, parents, nonprofits, and businesses that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, and research.