Fresh Thoughts: Sweet drugs

By Sara Scheler

October 30, 2013

Did you know that cookies can be as addicting as cocaine? A student-professor team from Connecticut College recently released the data from their study involving America’s favorite high-fat, high-sugar cookie: the Oreo.

The students released rats in a maze with Oreos on one side and rice cakes on the other. In the second round, they gave rats a shot of cocaine on one side of the maze and a shot of saline solution on the other. They observed the amount of time the rats spent on each side of the maze and compared these results.

They found that the rats hung out by the cookies just as often as they hung out by the cocaine shots.

One of the students found that protein pleasure centers in the rats’ brains were activated more heavily by the Oreos than by the drugs.

The researchers concluded that high-fat, high-sugar foods like Oreos can be dangerously addictive. This can cause a real problem with over-eating and likely contributes to the obesity epidemic our country now faces.

Now we know why it is so easy to over-consume junk food. Next time you are craving something sweet, be mindful of how much you eat. Opt for fruit or a piece of chocolate and serve yourself a small portion and put the rest away.