Think kids are making a wise beverage choice by opting for diet sodas? We’d say parents should decide, but that won’t stop fun sponges from scaring us and speculating about it. It seems like the food nannies can’t decide where to draw the line on soft drinks:

“We do want children to drink less sugar,” [Emory University senior researcher Dr. Miriam B.] Vos said in an interview.

“But the challenge,” she added, “is that there are no studies that have looked at the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners in growing children.”

In other words, there might—perhaps, maybe, possibly—be a risk for kids. There’s no evidence of one, so it’s pure speculation.

For those of you without an dictionary of idioms, this is exactly what we mean when we talk about “moving the goalposts” and “slippery slopes.” We’ve been bombarded with tomes against sugar in soda, but as soon as the trend goes (seemingly) their way, activists shift the debate and turn the formerly “better” option into a frightening unknown that can’t be trusted.

The food and beverage industry, in hearing the concerns of consumers, uses technology to give them more options. That’s how we have artificial sweeteners and diet sodas in the first place. But even that is derided by the regressive food activists.

Groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) are good at tipping us off about their end game. We reported last year that CSPI rejects all risk-balancing when it comes to sodas because of some bizarre, inherent hatred of sweet-tasting drinks.

So what should we drink if soda is bad because of sugar, and diet soda is maybe bad?

Vos said that when she counsels families, she suggests that kids stick with water and milk, which has protein, calcium and other nutrients.

Vos obviously hasn’t been reading Mark Bittman lately, who is on a new anecdotal anti-milk kick. When you boil it down, this crowd is down on pretty much everything but water (and bread). Perhaps they should launch their own diet fad: The Prisoner Diet.