Study: Oreos may be as addictive as cocaine - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Study: Oreos may be as addictive as cocaine

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Oreo cookies may be just as addictive as cocaine -- at least to mice used in a lab study. 

That's according to a new study conducted by Connecticut College students and their professor

Similar to humans, rats often ate the cream center first before going for the cookie.

The purpose of the study was to look at the potential addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods.

The study found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain's "pleasure center" than exposure to drugs such as cocaine or morphine.

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

The study was conducted by giving the rats Oreos on one side of a maze, and rice cakes on the other side of the maze.

Schroeder said that, just like humans, rats didn't get pleasure out of eating the rice cakes.

The rats were also given a shot of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze and a shot of saline on the other. Schoeder is licensed by the USDA to purchase and use controlled substances for research.

The research showed that rats who had been conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the "drug" side of the maze as the rats who were conditioned with cocaine or morphine. The Oreos, however, 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," Schroeder said.

He said that he and his students chose to feed the rats Oreos because they wanted a food that was appetizing to humans and contributes to obesity in the same way cocaine is pleasurable and addictive to humans.

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