Study: Oreo cookies just as addictive as cocaine, morphine; more of a danger due to accessibility

a a a a
Share this story

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Can't stop reaching for just one more Oreo cookie? There may be a scientific reason why. A new study says "America’s favorite cookie" is just as addictive as cocaine -- at least for lab rats. 

In the study conducted by professors and students at Connecticut College, aimed at evaluating the potential addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods, the researchers found that rats formed the same  strong association with the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and as they did between cocaine or morphine.

However, the study also found that when the rats consumed the cookies it activated more neurons in the brain’s "pleasure center" than exposure to the drugs.  

"Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do," said Joseph Schroeder, a neuroscience assistant professor at Connecticut College. "It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them."

According to the college, the study is the result of an interest neuroscience student Jamie Honohan had on the prevalence of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods, and whether it contributed to the obesity epidemic.

Honohan said one of the surprising results of the research was how the rats consumed the cookies.

"They would break it open and eat the middle first," she said.

The scientists said they used a maze to measure the association between "drug" and environment. On one side of the maze, they would feed hungry rats Oreos and on the other, they would offer them a control, such as rice cakes.

 "Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them," Schroeder said

The professors and students said they would then let the rats choose to spend time on either side of the maze and measure how long they would stay there. Typically, they preferred Oreos.

The researchers then compared the results of the Oreo and rice cake test with those from rats that were given an injection of cocaine or morphine. According to the data, the rats lured with Oreos spent as much time on the "drug" side of the maze as the rats offered cocaine or morphine.

"This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/high-sugar foods are addictive," said Schroeder.

"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," Honohan said.

According to the college, Schroeder will present the Oreo research in November at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Entertainment News
Kings Island Banshee roller coaster makes debut
Kings Island Banshee roller coaster makes debut

King's Island is set to open Friday and this year park organizers are preparing to give visitors a real scream.

'View' co-hosts to salute Barbara Walters in May
'View' co-hosts to salute Barbara Walters in May

ABC's "The View" will gather all 11 past and present co-hosts to salute Barbara Walters as she retires from daily television.

Vinyl moves the needle for Record Store Day
Vinyl moves the needle for Record Store Day

Record Store Day, happening April 19, has turned into a communal, worldwide rally for purists, revivalists and audiophiles of all ages. 

Review: SCPA performs sci-fi play 'R.U.R.'
Review: SCPA performs sci-fi play 'R.U.R.'

Technology advances so fast in the modern world that each new innovation is quickly outdated. The School for Creative and Performing…

Review: Dark play 'R.U.R.' staged at SCPA
Review: Dark play 'R.U.R.' staged at SCPA

The progress of mankind and the dangers of technological innovation are themes often explored by writers and mediums of all types—be it…

Review: Robots brought to life in drama 'R.U.R.'
Review: Robots brought to life in drama 'R.U.R.'

Progress leads everyone and everything forward, right? But what about when plans stray from the path and robots start to act on their own…

Cappies review SCPA's performance of 'R.U.R.'
Cappies review SCPA's performance of 'R.U.R.'

Selected excerpts from Cappies critic reviews of SCPA's performance of 'R.U.R.'

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels show
Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels show

Miley Cyrus is in the hospital and unable to perform her "Bangerz" concert in Kansas City, Mo., as planned.

VIDEO: Flight attendant's funny safety speech
VIDEO: Flight attendant's funny safety speech

We've all been there. You finally get settled into your airline seat, anxious to reach your destination. But before you can go anywhere…

US Airways tweets graphic nude photo, apologizes
US Airways tweets graphic nude photo, apologizes

US Airways posted a message on Twitter that contained a graphic image in response to a passenger Monday afternoon.