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23/5/2019  
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HEALTH
In lab rats at least

Oreo cookies may be more addictive than cocaine

According to research by Connecticut College neuroscientist Joseph Schroeder and his students, rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and cocaine

A group of students and a professor of neuroscience have discovered that Oreo cookies may be as addictive as cocaine or morphine
Redacción 30/10/2013 Send to a friend
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 A new study from Connecticut College shows that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, at least for lab rats. According to the new study, eating the iconic black and white cookies activated more neurons in the rat brain’s “pleasure center” than drugs such as cocaine.

In a study designed to shed light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat/ high-sugar foods, Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program, and his students found 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.

For their study, the students gave Oreos to hungry rats on one side of a maze, and on the other side of the maze they gave them a "control" food, in this case, rice cakes.

Then they gave the rats the option to go to either side of the maze (without the food present), and measured how long they spent on the side where they were typically fed with Oreos compared with the side they were fed with rice cakes.

The researchers then repeated the experiment with another group of rats. This time, instead of feeding them Oreos and rice cakes, they injected them with addictive drugs - such as cocaine and morphine - when they were on one side of the maze, or saline, when they were on the other side. 

The results show that the rats "addicted" to Oreos spent as much time on the side where they had been conditioned with Oreos as the rats that had been conditioned with addictive drugs spent on the drugs side of their maze. They found Oreos stimulated many more neurons than cocaine or morphine. This is in line with the findings of the earlier behavioral experiments and supports the idea that the high-fat, high-sugar foods are addictive.

A spokeswoman for Mondelez International, which owns Nabisco, the maker of the iconic sandwich cookie, cautioned people against associating Oreo with the findings since the cookies were used as "a proxy for a non-specific ´sweet´ variable."

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