Lab rats...they’re just like us. At least when it comes to loving Oreos.
Student researchers at Connecticut College in New Haven say their study of the potential addictiveness of high-fat/high-sugar foods finds that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine and morphine, at least for lab rats.
Professor Joseph Schroeder says eating the cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than exposure to cocaine or morphine.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain the same way that drugs do," says Schroeder, adding, “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
For the study, rats were given Oreos on one side of a maze and rice cakes on the other side. Just like humans, the rats didn’t seem to get much enjoyment out of eating the rice cakes, but they gobbled up the Oreos. And just like most humans, the rats opened the cookies and ate the creamy middle first.
When the food was removed, the rats had the option of staying in one section of the maze or the other, and they always spent more time in the area where the Oreos had been.
In a second experiment, rats were injected with cocaine or morphine in one section of the maze and given a shot of saline in the other. Just like the Oreo-conditioned rats, the drug-conditioned rats chose to spend more time in the part of the maze where they got shots of drugs.