Researchers at Connecticut College say that they have found Oreo cookies are as additive as heavy drugs such as cocaine — at least for lab rats in which the tests were conducted.
Student neuroscience majors created the study, which shows the affects of high-sugar and high-fat foods have on residents of low-income communities.
The beloved stuffed cookie from snack manufacturer Mondelez International (MDLZ) was shown to be a significant driver for the mice — and the Oreos “activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine” for the rats.
The researchers created a maze which at one end contained the Oreo cookie and the other end a rice cake. All of the rats went for the cookie and like true Oreo cookie fans, would eat the middle first.
The findings were compared to a similar study in which rats were given “a shot of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze or a shot of saline on the other.” The rats spent the same amount of time on the Oreo side as they did with the drugs.
The research was the brainchild of neuroscience major Jamie Honohan ’13. A scholar in the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, Honohan was interested in how the prevalence of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods contributed to the obesity epidemic.
“My research interests stemmed from a curiosity for studying human behavior and our motivations when it comes to food,” said Honohan. “We chose Oreos not only because they are America’s favorite cookie, and highly palatable to rats, but also because products containing high amounts of fat and sugar are heavily marketed in communities with lower socioeconomic statuses.”
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability.”