No doubt that it’s nearly impossible to indulge in just one Oreo cookie when there are so many more to gobble down. New research shows that these delicious cookies are just as addictive as cocaine and morphine – at least in lab rats.
A study from Connecticut College reveals that lab rats not only couldn’t get enough Oreos, but when eating them they enacted more neurons in their brains’ pleasure center than exposure to drugs of abuse.
The college students wanted to research the addictiveness of high-fat, high-sugar foods.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
For their research, students created a maze. On one side, they would give hungry rats Oreos and on the other – rice cakes. Rats were given the option of spending time on either side of the maze and were measured on how long they spent on the side they were fed Oreos.
Students were surprised to watch the rats eat the cookie by breaking it open and eating the creamy middle first, just like humans.
Researchers compared the results of the cookie test with results from rats that were given an injection of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze and a shot of saline on the other. The rats conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the drug side as the rats conditioned with cocaine or morphine.
Students concluded that highly addictive high-fat, high-sugar foods are a problem for society.
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” said neuroscience major Jamie Honohan.