Oreo Cookies Just As Addictive As Cocaine, Study Says

    October 16, 2013
    Amanda Crum
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A new study from researchers at Connecticut College shows that Oreo cookies are just as addictive–to lab rats, anyway–as cocaine.

The study aimed to show why we choose the foods we do as well as prove once and for all whether certain high-fat, high-sugar foods are indeed “addictive”. Everyone knows that a heartbreak can be eased with a carton of peanut butter fudge ice cream (preferably eaten in bed with a “Breaking Bad” marathon); but why do we choose the foods for comfort that are technically the worst for our bodies?

According to Professor Joseph Schroeder, it’s because those foods activate more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center than even a highly addictive drug…like cocaine.

“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.”

The scientists said they placed rats in a maze that had an Oreo cookie on one side and a rice cake on the other. Given the option to choose which side they wanted to go to, the rats consistently chose the Oreo side. Next, a different group of rats were placed in a maze where they received a shot of cocaine or morphine solution on one side and a shot of saline on the other. The rats given the Oreos spent as much time on that side of their maze as the rats who chose the drugs. Neuroscience major Jamie Honohan says that the major concern with the study’s findings is that those sugary foods that create such a feeling of pleasure in our brains can have lasting affects on health, yet they are much cheaper and are more easily accessible than drugs.

“My research interests stemmed from a curiosity for studying human behavior and our motivations when it comes to food,” said Honohan, who led the study out of curiosity regarding low-income families and the prevalence of fatty, sugary foods in their homes. “We chose Oreos not only because they are America’s favorite cookie, and highly palatable to rats, but also because products containing high amounts of fat and sugar are heavily marketed in communities with lower socioeconomic statuses.”

The researchers said that perhaps the most surprising part of the study was that the rats ate the Oreos just like many humans do: by breaking them apart and eating the middle first.

  • Wow

    Wow. Sugary foods are addictive? You means someone actually spent valuable time and money looking into this? Let me save people a lot of research money:

    A) People eat sweets because they taste good. Oreos simply taste good.
    B) When people are depressed, they eat. Thus, the origin of the term comfort food.
    C) We are fat as hell in this nation so people are doing a lot of A and B.

    I hate research like this because you know some moron out there is going to try to ban Oreos. We already have some moron in New Hampshire who tweeted about her kids playing tag in school and now the school has banned tag. Then yesterday, a girl who did the absolute right thing by picking up her drunk girlfriend at a party gets arrested and expelled. The entire world knows she did the right and moral thing — yet still she gets arrested and expelled. But the absolute worst case of being a moron was when the Mayor of New York tried to ban the Big Gulp. Of all the problems facing society, he freely chose to go after the evil of the Big Gulp.

    We have literally become a nation of morons that are lead by morons. The three stooges could do a better job.

    • Jen

      Gaining a deeper understanding of our brain chemistry is not even remotely moronic. By your same logic, researching even the addictive properties of the cocaine these foods are being compared to would be stupid. Why? Because obviously people just enjoy cocaine and that’s all we need to know.

      You have an issue with how the country is being run and believe you are surrounded by morons when you are a part of the problem. Your blatant anti-intellectualism is akin to that found in those making the biggest mistakes in the nation right now. Just because some members of the public might try to make an illogical conclusion from research and use it to justify their goals is not a flaw with the research – it’s a flaw with them. Furthermore, there is a little bit more going on than “hurr durr Oreos are tasty,” you incredibly ignorant person.

  • KC

    Maybe they should look at the sugar quantity in fast foods like McDonalds burgers, KFC chicken and even low cal salad dressings.

  • chai mok

    why didn’t the reserchers put the coaine on one side of the maze and the oreos on the other… my bet is they would have a lot of cookies left over… junk science… junk food… cocaine… junk…

  • Dumb

    I guess I missed the part where the rats addicted to cocaine chose the oreo at the same rate as the injection. Oh, that didn’t happen? I guess it’s a stupid headline, then. You could have put anything with any flavor on the other side and the rats would choose the flavor over a rice cake. Next headline: Pretzels just as addictive as cocaine!

  • Paul S

    Oreos are cheaper than heroin and cocaine

  • janet

    i have never been a fan of oreos, so i don’t see the hype.

  • http://www.Kigyo.co Makusan

    What a load of C#$p!!! The issue is SUGAR a chemical used by food industry. We are the issue…our addictions…not the food. Just because you can does not mean you have too or should. To break the sugar addiction all that has to happen is to eat a small amount of good protein every time you get a craving…you can end your addition. You give up your choice and power…the bag of cookies has no power to jump into your mouth, force you to put them into that pie hole.