Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, say scientists (who also discover the cream in the middle really IS the best part)
- Study measures lab rats’ reaction to the chocolate cookie
- Results were then compared to earlier cocaine addiction test
- Similarities were found between ‘levels of addiction’ in each
Oreos can be as addictive to the brain as cocaine, the authors of a scientific study have claimed.
The chocolate cookies have been found to trigger the same neurons in the brain’s ‘pleasure centre’ as the outlawed drug during extensive lab testing on rats.
Neuroscientist Joseph Schroeder from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, led research into the addictive effect of the indulgent treat.
His team discovered that the hungry rodents’ reaction to the biscuit was comparable to that of rats who had been offered cocaine in earlier tests.
As well as finding that, like humans, rats prefer to eat the cream part of their Oreo first, scientists also saw similarities between the levels of addiction in ‘Oreo rats’ and their cocaine hooked cousins.
To arrive at the conclusion, Schroeder placed rats in a maze which had two routes to different treats.
One on side, they placed rice cakes and on the other they placed Oreos
After the animals had explored the maze fully, they were then left to choose which treat they would prefer to stay at.
Speaking of his findings, Schroeder said: ‘Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating rice cakes.’
The results, which showed the rodents had a strong preference for the chocolate treat, were compared to those of an identical test involving drugs.
One on side of the maze, the rats would be given an injection of saline while on the other they were given a dose of cocaine or morphine.
According to Schroeder, the rats in the Oreo experiment spent as much time hanging around their Oreo zone in the food test as they did the cocaine zone in the drug test, showing similar levels of addiction.
Writing in a statement describing the study, to be presented at the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego next month, Schroeder added: ‘Our research supports the theory that high-fat and high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.
‘That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.
‘(The results) lend support to the hypothesis that maladaptive eating behaviors contributing to obesity can be compared to drug addiction.
Speaking to Today.com, he said: ‘I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment.’
Lauren Cameron, a student at Connecticut College who worked on the study said: ‘It really just speaks to the effects that high fat and high sugar foods and foods in general, can have on your body.
‘The way they react in your brain, that was really surprising for me.’