Researchers say the study sheds light on why some people are unable to resist so-called “bad” foods like Oreos and believe their findings may lead to a better understanding of obesity. Joseph Schroeder, a professor at Connecticut College, says, “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
Furthermore, the researchers say, high-fat, high-sugar foods might actually be more dangerous for us than illegal drugs because Oreos are extremely inexpensive and can be purchased almost anywhere. “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,” said scientist Jamie Honohun.
The scientists who conducted the study say it will lend credence to looking at obesity as similar to other problems caused by addictive processes. To conduct the study, they observed the rats’ behavior when presented with a maze that had the cookies in one section and plain rice cakes in the other. The rats quickly figured out how to get to the Oreo section, and they gathered there. Then, the rats were given cocaine and morphine in one section of the maze and a non-drug solution in the other. The rats spent as much time gathered on the Oreo section of the maze as they did in the section of the maze that featured the addictive drugs. The rats’ behavior also indicated that they did not get as much pleasure from eating the rice cakes as they did from the Oreos.