I was browsing a trashy magazine in the doctor's office yesterday and came across an ad for Fruity Pebbles with 50% less sugar than the original. Great, I thought, they're making them less sweet! But then I saw that they aren't making them less sweet; they're just sweetening them artificially--with Splenda.
When we were kids, diet products were never marketed to us. I always thought of the sugar-free Kool-Aid packets as something for diabetic children. I never dreamed of drinking a diet Coke or putting Sweet-n-Low in my iced tea. I think this is a good thing. Americans are calorie-obsessed enough as it is; it won't help to start people off at the age of three. We know too little about the long-term effects of artificial sugars in general and Splenda in particular to start pumping our kids full of the stuff. (At the very least, research suggests that artificial sugars throw off the body's calculus of how many calories are in a food based on its sweetness, possibly leading to overeating. At any rate, wouldn't it be better to get kids used to the taste of naturally-less-sweet foods than to get them hooked on chemically-super-sweet foods?) And while Fruity Pebbles might not be the best source of calories, kids do need calories, maybe even (gasp!) sugar.
The kicker is that moves such as this will only make this country even fatter and more unhealthy than the developed nations that actually eat real food.