Oreos More Addictive Than Cocaine? Study Shows Cookies Might Produce More Pleasure Than Coke In Rats

10/18/2013 12:55 pm ET | Updated Oct 18, 2013

Put down that bag of Oreos and pick up that crack pipe. Just kidding -- please, please don't.

But there is evidence that, at least in one respect, Oreo cookies may be more addictive than cocaine.

As the Christian Science Monitor reports, researchers at Connecticut College designed a rat maze with Oreos on one side and rice cakes on the other. The rats spent a lot more time hanging out and eating the Oreos than feeding on the rice cakes.

In a similar test, the researchers also measured which side of the maze rats preferred when on one side they were offered injections of saline and on the other, there were injections of cocaine or morphine. The rats spent just as much time on the cocaine and morphine side of the maze as they did on the Oreo side in the other experiment.

In both experiments, researchers monitored brain activity in the rats, according to a press release on the findings.

They used immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activation, in the nucleus accumbens, or the brain’s “pleasure center.”

The researchers found that "Oreos activated significantly more neurons" than cocaine.

"This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/high-sugar foods are addictive,” Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology at Connecticut College, said.

Keith Humphreys, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, told The Huffington Post he's skeptical of the study's findings.

"The cornerstone of scientific quality is peer-review," Humphreys said in an email to HuffPost. "This study hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed journal. It has not even been presented at a conference. All I know is that they put a press release making a series of claims based on a study, the details of which they have not shared with their colleagues. On principle, that makes me doubt their conclusions."

Humphreys also said there are limits to comparisons between food and drugs.

"There is no doubt that foods and drugs can produce activity in similar parts of the brain," Humphreys said. "However, addiction is about negative consequences such as overdose and death, and that's not parallel for drugs and food. If a heavy heroin user stops using heroin, he is better off. If a heavy eater stops eating, he dies."

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