Diet Soda Sales Decreasing Amid Research On Potential Health Effects

Sales of diet soda have declined nearly 7 percent in the past year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, which first reported the drop in sales, also reported that sales of regular soda have dropped 2.2 percent over the same time period. The finding comes from a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen scanner data that includes drink purchases made up until Nov 23.

The trend isn't new: Declines in diet soda consumption have outpaced those of regular soft drinks over the last three years, according to Good Morning America.

Diet soda has been the focus of a growing body of research in recent years. Some studies have showed associations between consumption of diet soda and weight gain (though researchers point out that it's hard to determine a causal relationship -- for example, overweight or obese people may drink more diet soda than thin people because they are more likely to be actively trying to lose weight with low-calorie items). Other studies have also suggested links between diet soda consumption and stroke and Type 2 diabetes. However, experts note that much is still not known about diet soda's effects on health -- which could end up being the beverage's biggest issue of all.

"We don’t really know a whole lot about what these specific artificial sweeteners do to the brain reward system. We know their safety -– they're FDA-approved -- but don’t know enough about the long-term effects on appetite," said Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a sugar addiction researcher and assistant professor at the University of Florida, previously told HuffPost.

TIME also pointed out that the report also showed an increase in concern regarding GMO (genetically modified) foods.

"The biggest trend in food, really, is a desire for consumers to move away from things that are very processed," Laurie Demerit, the CEO of the Hartman Group, told TIME.

For more on the new diet soda sales report, watch the video above.