Are you an Oreo junky? If you just can’t stop gorging on the delicious cookies and love to scrape the white creamy centers, it’s really not your fault!
In an intriguing new study, the researchers suggest that Oreos elicit an addictive behavior similar to cocaine and other drugs, at least for lab rats.
Researchers found evidence that over-indulgence of the sugary treat triggers addiction-like neuroadaptive responses in brain pleasure centers , driving the development of compulsive eating in rodents.
“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 at Connecticut College says. “That may be one reason people have trouble staying away from them and it may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.”
Experiments on rodents
Researchers conducted experiments on rodents to shed some light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods. For the purpose of the study they placed hungry rats in a maze that had rice cakes on one side and Oreo cookies on the other.
Experts gave the animals an option of spending time on either side of the maze. Not surprisingly, the rodents darted straight towards the Oreo and broke open the cookies to eat the delicious creamy center first.
The researchers compared the results of their study to another in which rats were offered a shot of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze vs a jab of saline on the other.
Outcome of the study
It was noted that rats seemed to like Oreos as much as the “addictive drugs”. Experts also monitored activity in the nucleus accumbens of the brain, also known as 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. The researchers observed that Oreos stimulated more neurons than cocaine or morphine.
“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 stated about the study.
The research will be presented next month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California.