According to a study from students and professors at Connecticut College, lab rats find Oreo cookies to be as addictive as cocaine.
"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 Neuroscience 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.”
Neuroscience major Jamie Honohan, the mastermind behind the study, was interested in how the prevalence of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods contributed to the obesity epidemic.
To test the addictive powers of Oreos, the rats were run through a maze. On one end of the maze, the rats were offered Oreos, on the other, rice cakes.
Another test group was given an injection of cocaine or morphine on one side, and a shot of saline on the other. It seems that the rats spent just as much extra time hanging out on the Oreo side of the maze as the other mice did on the cocaine side.
“This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/ high-sugar foods are addictive,” Schroeder said.
Honohan said that's a huge 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,” she said.