News / Health

Study: Cookies as Addictive as Cocaine

A new study says Oreo cookies can be as addictive as drugs to lab rats. (photo credit: Evan-Amos/Vanamo Media)
A new study says Oreo cookies can be as addictive as drugs to lab rats. (photo credit: Evan-Amos/Vanamo Media)

Related Articles

Video Lifestyle Changes Could Lengthen Telomeres, Life

Test subjects who went on a health kick saw their telomeres lengthen

Video School Lunches Join Farm-to-Table Trend

Nationwide movement aims to provide healthier school cafeteria food while also supporting family farmers

Statins Could Extend Life

Drugs may prevent telomeres, a region of DNA strand at the end of a chromosome, from shortening - a key factor in the aging process
VOA News
Can a cookie be as addictive as cocaine?

Researchers say that for lab rats at least, the answer is yes. Rodents in a study at Connecticut College became hooked on Oreos, the most popular cookie in the United States during a study aimed at shedding light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods.

According to the scientists, lab rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment. They also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than exposure to drugs of abuse.

Researchers also noted that like humans, rats like to eat the creamy center of Oreos first.

“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.”

Oreos have been available in the U.S. since 1912 and consist of two chocolate cookie discs with a sweet cream filling. They are now available in many flavors.

To test the cookie’s addictiveness, researchers placed rats in a maze. On one side of the maze, they would give hungry rats Oreos, and on the other side, rice cakes. They would then give the rats the option of spending time on either side of the maze.

Those results were compared to rats who were placed in a maze that offered an injection of cocaine or morphine versus an injection of saline solution.

The research showed the rats conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the Oreo side of the maze as the rats conditioned with cocaine or morphine.

Researchers also monitored activity in the brain’s pleasure center.

“It basically tells us how many cells were turned on in a specific region of the brain in response to the drugs or Oreos,” said Schroeder.

They found that the Oreos 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,” said Schroeder.

The research will be presented next month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PhysicsPolice
October 18, 2013 6:32 PM
First of all, this is not a peer-reviewed, published study. The researchers looked at something called "conditioned place preference". This is not the same thing as addiction, which is characterized by specific cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes food can be addictive. But this study did NOT directly compare Oreos to drugs. It compared Oreos to rice crackers, and drug injections to a saline control. The team never compared Oreos plus saline control to drugs plus rice crackers!

So, any conclusion about their relative addictive potential is invalid. The outcome would not change replacing Oreos with chocolate chip cookies, or cheese. http://thephysicspolice.blogspot.com/2013/10/rats-oreos-and-drugs.html

This is dishonest reporting, and should be retracted.

by: Markt
October 16, 2013 8:04 PM
wonder how many millions were spent on these findings....money they could have saved, simply by asking me....

by: cat from: oregon
October 16, 2013 1:51 PM
they should try this with krispy kreme donuts. personal observation indicates they are more addictive than heroin.

by: Arti from: Washington
October 15, 2013 10:08 PM
I wonder if there is any specific ingredient in Oreo which other high cookies don't have. It will be interesting to see this study done with some other brands containing different levels of sugar.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs