You might on occasion joke about how your favorite snacks are so totally and overwhelmingly delicious, they’re addictive. You just… cannot… stop. Some researchers are on your side after running rats through tests pitting Oreos and rice cakes against each other. Guess which one came out with the comparison that it’s a lot like cocaine on your brain?
Ding ding ding — you’re right! It was Oreos, says a research team at Connecticut College (via Today.com).
Researchers said eating sugar treats triggers more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center to do a happy dance than even doing drugs like cocaine.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said one of the researchers. “That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.”
Neuroscience students ran hungry rats through a maze with rice cakes on one side and Oreos on the other.
“Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them,” the researcher said of the rats on the rice cake side. But on the other hand, rats even liked eating the creamy center of the Oreos first, just like many humans.
A separate test compared rats injected with saline while on the other side of the maze, the rats got cocaine or morphine.
Then the rats got to choose for themselves which side they wanted to hang out on, rats would head for the Oreos side just about as much as they did for the side with drugs.
“These findings suggest that high fat/sugar foods and drugs of abuse trigger brain addictive processes to the same degree and lend support to the hypothesis that maladaptive eating behaviors contributing to obesity can be compared to drug addiction,” the team writes in a statement describing the study, to be presented at the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego next month.
Adds the study’s researcher: “I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment.”
Good, no need for an intervention, then.
Addicted to Oreos? You truly might be [Today.com]