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Research at Connecticut College Shows Oreos Addictive

In what at first sounds like a college prank, researchers at Connecticut College have found that Oreo cookies have an addiction potential on par with heroin or cocaine. At least, that’s what reporting in the Washington Times says.

And as odd as the headline sounds, a visit to the college website confirms the research was real.

Using the standard set up with rats in a maze, the frisky rodents were given the choice between plain old rice cakes and Oreo cookies. They apparently health conscious rats. They went for the tasty goodness, even eating the “white stuff” first, just like we do.

The preference for the rats to hang out on the side of the maze where they had found cookies is indicative of a strong preference for the treats. And this mirrors the behavior you see when the items aren’t rice cakes and Oreos, but hard drugs vs. saline. With morphine and cocaine injections, rats do the same thing – they hang out where they think they are most likely to get what they want.

Does all this mean that Oreos are just as addictive as cocaine or opioids? Not really, but it isn’t junk-food science either. These types of tests are standard in the field of psychology and rat behavior is often used to model human behavior. However, these tests are only a start. Other evidence would be brain activity studies (in both humans and rats) and, well, actually looking at how humans behave. It’s rather hard to imagine that anyone who abused cocaine would, for example, take a nice cookie instead.

That’s not to say high fat and sugary foods aren’t attractive. They certainly are, and when overconsumed, they do lead to health problems. But it seems to denigrate addiction to claim these are equivalent to the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that come when an addict stops using hard drugs.


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