There’s a reason Oreo cookies are “America’s favorite cookie.” The sugar and fatty content in the cookies are as addictive as cocaine is to certain individuals according to a recent study done in London using rats.
A research team at Connecticut College in New London conducted an experiment on rats using a maze with rice cakes on one side and Oreo cookies on the other. The rats were observed on both sides of the maze. The study lead by Joseph Schroeder, who led the research team, concluded, “Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating rice cakes. Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
Doctors here in the U.S. also weighed in on the study. “Our bodies are wired to like sugary, fatty foods, but it’s not a habit that can’t be kicked,” said New York City Dr. Timothy Morley, whose work includes helping women use nutrition to regulate hormone health.”The first step in curing a sugar or fat addiction is, like with any addiction, realize you have it. This is difficult because we don’t generally think of food as being biologically addictive like a drug, but it can be.”
The current results were compared to previous trials done on rats that were given shots of morphine or cocaine on one side of a maze and shots of saline on the other. The Oreo study showed that the rats eating the Oreos spent as much time on the side of the maze equally as they did with the morphine and cocaine.
“My research interests stemmed from a curiosity for studying human behavior and our motivations when it comes to food,” said Jamie Honohan, the neuroscience major who designed the experiment. “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.”
Oreo makers have expanded the brand with ice cream, cakesters, and a large variety of flavors. Oreos are now being deep fried and added to some favorite recipes.
The research will be presented in November at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, Calif.
Just in case the chocolate with white cream isn’t your favorite, here are some of strange flavors offered by Nabisco.