Bob MacDonnell / Connecticut College

Oreos are gross. That creamy center? I’d rather not have my tongue feel like an oil slick after eating a cookie. And what flavor are the cookie part? Is it supposed to be chocolate? Or is “Oreo” also a flavor?  In any event, scientists have uncovered that America’s favorite cookie may be the equivalent of a horrible cocaine addiction. Well at least with lab rats it is.

A team of scientists at Connecticut College studied the effects of the sugary cookies and realized that Oreos activates more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than drugs such as cocaine.

“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” neuroscience assistant professor Joseph Schroeder says. “That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.”

So it’s not just Oreos then? Just sugar in general.

From NBC News:

Schroeder’s neuroscience students put hungry rats into a maze. On one side went rice cakes. “Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them,” Schroeder said. On the other side went Oreos.

Then the rats got the option of hanging out where they liked.

They compared the results to a different test. In that on, rats on one side of the maze got an injection of saline while those on the other side got injections of cocaine or morphine.

Rats seems to like the cookies about as much as they liked the addictive drugs. When allowed to wander freely, they’d congregate on the Oreo side for about as much time as they would on the drug side.

Oh, and just like most people – the rats eat the creamy center first.

“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,” Schroeder’s team writes in a statement describing the study, to be presented at the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego next month.

“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,” says Lauren Cameron, a student at Connecticut College who worked on the study.

“I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment,” Schroeder says.

I haven’t touched an Oreo since 3rd grade.

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  • Mmmgood

    I love Oreos or really any sandwich cookie, and that is why I only buy them once or twice per year.

  • I have never been an Oreo fan it not my number one junk food choice.

  • Miss A

    I think all junk food/sweets contain the same ingredient that triggers the brain regardless if its Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, Twizzlers, etc. But I LOVE Oreos, especially the yellow ones! OMG!

  • BeanBean

    I’ve always suspected that Starbucks drinks are laced with cocaine and Krispy Kreme donuts contain heroin. But I’m not sure about Oreos, I don’t find them addictive.

  • Tori

    Want to know that contributes to obesity? Lack of self control. People love to blame manufacturers of sweets & junk food but not place responsibility on individuals to moderate their intake of things that aren’t good for the human body in large quantities.

    Probably best not to attempt to explain human behavior with that of lab rats.

    • SMCD

      Yes to self control but I am so tired of all the blame being placed on the consumer.
      Most people eat a cookie or two as a snack and think they’re just signing up for some sugar, fat and perhaps some flavoring. Very few people actually realize that scientists have deliberately altered the sugar/fat ratios to alter your brain chemistry in order to create addiction to their product. There are entire teams of flavor scientists devoted to this task and you have zero control over it.
      This is not OK.