A study performed by students on rats at Conneticut College shows that Oreos are as addictive as cocoaine. The purpose of the study was to show how addictive high fat and high sugar foods can be, and like humans rats consumed the creamy centre first before eating the rest of the cookie.
Researchers first put the rats into a maze with Oreos on one side and rice cakes on the other. As suspected the rats spent their time eating the Oreo cookies. Like humans, rats didn’t receive much pleasure from eating the rice cakes.
Researches then offered the rats an injection of cocaine and morphine (both addictive substances) on one side of the maze and a shot of saline on the other. They then compared the Oreo and rice cake test results with the results from the rats that were given cocaine and morphine.
The rats spent just as much time on the cocaine and morphine side of the maze as they did on the Oreo side in the other experiment.
In both experiments, researchers monitored brain activity in the rats using immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activation, in the nucleus accumbens, or the brain’s “pleasure center.”
They found that the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than 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, associate professor of psychology at Connecticut College.
“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,” neuroscience major Jamie Honohan said.
“Overall our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”