The Oreo Addiction
by Eliza Scharfstein on Friday, November 8th, 2013
Over the past few months, Professor Joseph Schroedar and his students at Connecticut College studied, analyzed, and tested the addictiveness of America’s favorite cookie: the Oreo. They conducted a series of experiments in order to examine the addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods and the effect of addiction on the obesity epidemic.
The researchers conducted an experiment involving two groups of rats: one group was injected with cocaine and the other group was given original Oreos. Oreos were chosen on account of their high levels of sugar and fat and the fact that they are highly marketed in cities with lower socioeconomic statuses.
The research indicated that “the rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos…as they did between cocaine or morphine.” According to CNN Health, the researchers also found that the rats eating Oreos experienced “more pleasure than the animals being injected with drugs, as measured by activations changes in the [brain].”
NBC reported, “The findings are a problem for the general public,” as explained by Jamie Honohan, a recent neuroscience graduate from Connecticut College. More than 7.5 billion Oreo cookies are consumed each year, roughly 20.5 million every day. These statistics indicate that Oreos are the epitome of a food addiction. Eshani Chakrabarti (IV) agreed, mentioning, “You can’t just eat one Oreo and close the box,” a common opinion amongst these cookie consumers.
This study does not reveal just that Oreos are addictive but also that they can have properties that are more addictive than cocaine. “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,” Honohan said.
In their experiment, Schroedar and his students found that consuming high sugar and fat foods can lead to addictive behaviors, much like drug addictions. Head researcher, Dr. Schroeder, stated in the official release that “this [finding] may help us to understand why individuals who are… limited to high fat/sugar options are more susceptible to obesity.”
This study reinforced efforts to expose the problem of obesity and begged for a response to the frequently asked question regarding how the U.S. can actively aid efforts to lower the obesity rate. The study suggested that food high in sugar is equally or more addictive than cocaine, implying that completely giving up dessert-like, unhealthy, and sugar filled treats could be similar to detoxification. This finding may result in programs and rehab facilities established to help fight Oreo addictions and other high sugar food addictions.
With obesity rates within the U.S. projected to increase to 113 million people by 2022, according to researchers from GlobalData, awareness for the issue has gained momentum. Studies such as this one that reveal information about the addictiveness of unhealthy products are forcing programs such as Flik to reevaluate the food they serve and to provide the Milton community with an outlet for a healthier option. However, in Forbes, the snack bar, and the bookstore, any student can find his or her fair-share of high sugar foods. The impact of this study is not drastic enough to alter Milton students’ perspectives of healthy and unhealthy food. Sophie Cloherty (III) explained that, while she is aware of the findings of this study and she doesn’t “want to be on the same level as a cocaine addict, most likely, the next time I see a box of Oreos, I will get a glass of milk and go for it.”
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