Oreos May Be As Addictive As Cocaine

That stuf is addictive

  • Share
  • Read Later
James A. Guilliam / Getty Images

Oreo cookies

If you have ever found yourself unable to resist just one more Oreo, you’re not alone. That “stuf” is like crack, neurologically speaking.

A new study from Connecticut College shows that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, at least for lab rats. According to the new study,  eating the iconic black and white cookies activated more neurons in the rat brain’s “pleasure center” than drugs such as cocaine.

“I haven’t touched an Oreo since doing this experiment,” neuroscience assistant professor Joseph Schroeder said in a school press release.

(MORE: 100 Years of Oreos: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Iconic Cookie)

The research looked at the rats’ behaviors and the effects the cookies had on their brains. Rats were put into a maze and given the choice of hanging out near rice cakes or Oreos. The tasty sandwich cookies won that popularity contest handily. Those results were compared to a different test, where rats were given the choice of loitering in an area of a maze where they were injected with saline or in another corner where they could get a shot of cocaine or morphine.

The rats in the study liked the cookies about as much as they liked the drugs, congregating near the cookie side of the maze as much as they would on the drug side.

Much like humans, rats also prefer the delicious creamy center to the cookie. “They would break it open and eat the middle first,” said Jamie Honohun, one of the students who worked on the study.

“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.

Not addictive? Rice cakes. “Just like humans, rats don’t seem to get much pleasure out of eating them,” Schroeder said.

MORE: Cookies n’ Creme Oreos: The Most Meta Snack Ever

MORE: The Double Stuf Oreo May Be Missing Some Stuf

23 comments
SVLdonna
SVLdonna

Im so sick of these ridiculous & useless studies being done on lab rats or other animals.  Leave the animals alone and figure out another way to do your scientific studies.  How would you scientists like to be locked up in a human sized maze and starved, forced to find your way to food.  injected with drugs.  hooked up to probes. intentionally injected with disease, etc.  These animals feel pain and fear, just like we do, and they were not put on this planet with us, to be used and abused by us. 

SeanButler1
SeanButler1

Ridiculous - that study doesn't prove anything except rats prefer cocaine to saline and cookies to rice cakes. Earthshaking science. Hard-hitting reporting. Why would anyone conduct such a useless study, and why would TIME pick it up as a story and give it such a misleading headline? I'd imagine TIME's answer would be "GOT YOU TO CLICK ON IT DIDN'T WE?"

EstanislaoDeloserrata
EstanislaoDeloserrata

What complete rubbish.   No wonder the general public has developed such a low opinion of so-called "science"  --  or more appropriately an abysmal opinion of major media " science writers."   

PhysicsPolice
PhysicsPolice

First of all, this is not a peer-reviewed, published study. The researchers looked at something called "conditioned place preference". This is not the same thing as addiction, which is characterized by specific cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes food can be addictive. But this study did NOT directly compare Oreos to drugs. It compared Oreos to rice crackers, and drug injections to a saline control. The team never compared Oreos plus saline control to drugs plus rice crackers!

So, any conclusion about their relative addictive potential is invalid. The outcome would not change replacing Oreos with chocolate chip cookies, or cheese. http://thephysicspolice.blogspot.com/2013/10/rats-oreos-and-drugs.html

This is dishonest reporting, and should be retracted.

daria.gredysa
daria.gredysa

Melissa,

I don't believe your specific area of interest is in divulging the actual statistics of a study, but furthermore, what if Oreos where paired against Doritos or an exercise wheel or rat food?

There is research done at UPenn that actually proves the contrary. Sugar is not as addictive as cocaine.

This article is understandably part of a beat and perhaps, Melissa, you are not encouraged to present both sides of - even when it is something "no consequential." But people reference this stuff.

Daria Gredysa

guitarzrus
guitarzrus

Oreos...a true sugar rush!!!! Even rats love them!  LMAO

RobertBain
RobertBain

Horribly misleading. The only thing you are proving is that "we" seek pleasure.

AlexanderWayland-James
AlexanderWayland-James

What??? lol.... remember, food used to be scarce and so eating as much fatty food as possible meant higher chance of survival and more energy if you had to go 1-2 days without finding food. So things that are savory have chemicals that are linked to high calorie foods. I don't know what kind of nutrients you can get from cocaine and I doubt you get withdrawl symptoms from oreo cookies.... that's just really bad editorializing ....

RosemaryTime
RosemaryTime

A rat doesn't have the same capacity as a human to enjoy cocaine, so it is no wonder they preferred the sweet treat. Cocaine can make someone feel energised and euphoric, and a human has the capacity to express these subjective states in many ways, for example talking manically or dancing wildly. Plus, humans interpret their own drug affected state in a different way than a fess complicated rat will, and so they choose to use drugs for different reasons, including escapism, heightened experience, and increased confidence. The effect of a drug is not just about physiology, and must also be understood in the context of the environment (culture, laws, etc) and the individual using it (gender, age, weight, mental state, physical health, previous experience, expectation, etc).

I haven't ever heard a rat laugh or seen any dancing at a nightclub or drinking booze. Rats don't need religion because they don't have the intellectual capacity to reflect on life, death, and meaning like humans do. Similarly, they have a much more basic subjectivity and don't suffer from a myriad of psychiatric disorders or have a sophisticated understanding of free will. They live "hand to mouth" and just get on with the task of living. 

Conversely, I don't know of many people who live their lives trapped in a sterile laboratory cage; only permitted to stay alive because they are being used for experiments.

payitfwd
payitfwd

I actually really like the cookie part of an Oreo.  I open it up, scrape out the filling and eat the cookie halves.  This study makes me feel good about my chances of staying drug-free.   :-)

RyanManke
RyanManke

This title is misleading. They didn't even test Oreos against cocaine. They tested Oreos against rice cakes and cocaine against salt-water. The students would probably get a C on this. 

I would say that this is probably just a disguised Oreos ad. Instead of oreos, you could put a bowl of piss in one end of the maze and rice cakes at the other. The rats would go to the rice cakes. That does not suggest that rice cakes are as addictive as cocaine.

Stop reading magazines.

EyeKantSpeell
EyeKantSpeell

"Maybe"??.....what do you mean by Maybe??..they ARE!! :)

pacowek
pacowek

  cocaince > no cocaine
    oreas > rice cakes
    therefore: cocaine = oreo

    ????


This has to be one of the worst possible studies ever conducted.

kittnen
kittnen

This is seriously bad science. "Which do you prefer, Oreos or rice cakes?" Oh gee, wonder which the rat is going to pick. Oh, and they prefer cocaine over saline? Must mean they're just as addictive.

Correlation does not equal causation! 

anonanon123
anonanon123

Let me save the researchers a year of work..... it's the gliadin protein in the wheat of the cookies!

Sefanne
Sefanne

@AlexanderWayland-James Food addiction, especially sugar addiction is a real problem. And it causes withdrawl symptoms just like any other drugs. 

NullSkull
NullSkull

@RosemaryTime 

Exactly. And it is no wonder a lab rat would over-indulge in cocaine or Oreos, given that they likely spend the majority of their time isolated and alone in an un-enriched environment.

RobertBain
RobertBain

@richard_jones Right! "War on Fat." I don't like this equivalence between drugs and food. I understand the reasoning to stop people from goreging themselves. Buts its a corporate responsibility to not hurt the general public. I believe some might even call it unpatriotic to retard a population with sugar, tobacco, and alcohol. Ands my responsiblity to stay healthy and productive. But my belief is that I should be free to use whatever food or drug I want. What I do to myself is my personal business. Freedom isn't Free?

richard_jones
richard_jones

To expand, if you gave me a choice between rice cakes and Oreos it's pretty obvious what I'd choose too.

Make the rats choose between Oreos and cocaine, then maybe we'd have the start of a realistic study.  Not this crap.