This was a fascinating study recently done at Connecticut College. Students found that “America’s favorite cookie” (Oreos) was found just as addictive as cocaine…in lab rats. Also, while not part of the study, it’s interesting to note that the rats eat the creamy filling first too.
Rats were divided into two groups. The first group was put in a maze where one side was filled with rice cakes and the other side was filled with Oreo cookies and (no surprise) the rats preferred to hang out on the Oreo side.
The second group was put in a maze where on one side they received a saline solution injection and the other side they received an injection of cocaine or morphine.
Now here’s the really interesting part. They measured levels of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neural activation in the brain’s “pleasure center” and found that the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.
While the study was small and not in humans, it supports the theory that high-fat, high-sugar foods can be just as addictive as illegal drugs. Also, what makes this significant is the idea that while cocaine is illegal and fairly difficult to attain, junk food is easily accessible and affordable.
What are your thoughts? Do you think junk food is as addictive as drugs?
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