Research Indicates High Fat, High Sugar Foods Trigger Pleasure Center In Brain

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Research out of Connecticut College shows that “America’s Favorite Cookie” may be as addictive as cocaine.

Connecticut College psychology professor Joseph Schroeder and four students studied in rats whether high fat, high sugar foods can be as addictive as drugs of abuse.

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The research looked at the rats’ behaviors and the effects the cookies had on their brains.

“We found that the behavior they exhibited was equally strong for Oreo cookies as it was for cocaine or morphine,” Schroeder, the director of the Behavioral Neuroscience program at Connecticut College, told WCBS 880. “When we looked in the pleasure center of the brain, we found that the Oreo cookies activated the pleasure center more so than cocaine would activate the same center.”

The study came about when a student expressed interest in researching the obesity epidemic, noting that low-income areas tend to have a prevalence of fast-food options.

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“Overall, it lent support to the hypothesis that high fat, high sugar foods can be viewed in the same way as drugs of abuse and have addictive potential,” Schroeder told WCBS 880. “It could be used to explain why some people have a problem staying away from foods that they know they shouldn’t eat or that they know are addictive.”

Schroeder will present the research next month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.

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