By Vi-An Nguyen, Parade
If you’ve ever found yourself dipping your hand into a bag of Oreos more times than you wanted to, you can blame it on the cookies instead of yourself. The chocolate, creme-filled treats may be as addictive as cocaine, a new study has found .
Tray of Oreos
The research, conducted by neuroscience students at Connecticut College in New London, showed that the sugary treats lit up the same area of lab rats’ brains as addictive drugs like cocaine. In fact, the cookies activated even more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than the drugs did.
Tray of Oreos
To reach these findings, the students set up a maze with Oreos on one side and a less enticing food—rice cakes—on the other. “Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them,” said Professor Joseph Schroeder, who led the study. Then the researchers measured where the rats spent the most time.
The students did the same thing again—but instead of Oreos, they gave the rats a shot of cocaine or morphine, which are known to be highly addictive, and replaced the rice cakes with a neutral saline solution injection. The result? The rats spent the same amount of time on the Oreo side of the maze as they did on the drug side.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
Read the full story by Vi-An Nguyen from Parade.