Oreos are as addictive as cocaine? That's what researchers have discovered in a new study reported on October 16 in Parade magazine. The scariest part: When students tested those creme-filled cookies, the treats activated even more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than cocaine.
In their "that's the way the cookie crumbles" research, neuroscience students at Connecticut College in New London set up a maze with Oreo cookies on one side and boring, bland rice cakes on the other.
“Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them,” said Professor Joseph Schroeder, who directed the study.
When the rats ate the Oreo cookies, their response was as strong as when they were injected with cocaine or morphine, reported Fox News on October 15. And their brain neurons reacted even more strongly from Oreos than cocaine.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said Professor Schroeder. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
And for those who dislike rice cakes, it's worth noting that while the students produced the same results in rats with cocaine as with Oreos, they also produced the same "we don't care" results with rice cakes as with a neutral saline solution injection.
The student who came up with the study developed it to analyze how foods with high fat and sugar content may impact obesity in low-income communities.
“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,” Jamie Honohun said.
But she did offer up one entertaining discovery about how rats eat Oreos.
“They would break it open and eat the middle first,” she said.