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Pssst: Hey buddy, wanna buy some Oreos?

October 17, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • You love them, rats love them, but will the government continue to let you love them?
You love them, rats love them, but will the government continue to let you… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

This was a post I was supposed to turn in Wednesday: About how Oreos are as addictive (to rats, at least) as cocaine. And I meant to — really, boss. But I’m a gonzo journalist, so I wasn’t going to take some ivory tower researchers’ word for it. I went out and bought some Oreos. And I ate them.

And the rest of the day went by in a kind of sugary blur.

And now I want some more. Bad. You know, it’s like the Smashing Pumpkins song: “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage!” (Check it out; I’ve been banging my head to it for about 3 hours.)

Which makes no sense, really, that last paragraph. See kids: Drugs are an ugly thing. Just say no. And that includes to Oreos.

Anyway, yes, both the study (by Connecticut College students and a professor of psychology) and my own research indicate that Oreos are — pretty darn addictive.

But in my present state, I don’t trust myself to summarize. So here’s the relevant passages from Connecticut College News:

In a study designed to shed light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat/ high-sugar foods, Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program, and his students found rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment. They also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than exposure to drugs of abuse….

The research was the brainchild of neuroscience major Jamie Honohan ’13. A scholar in the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, Honohan was interested in how the prevalence of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods contributed to the obesity epidemic.

Gosh, I miss college reading material: Why use one word when three or four will get you tenure?

Not that the researchers were all work and no play:

While it may not be scientifically relevant, Honohan said it was surprising to watch the rats eat the famous cookie. “They would break it open and eat the middle first,” she said.

Just so you know, I believe there is a serious side to this news (I mean, beyond the fact that we’ve solved once and for all the question of which is the best way to eat Oreos). And that’s this:

“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

Or, as Antonin Scalia might say: The devil made me eat the Oreos!

Admittedly, it may be just me crashing from my sugar high, but here’s where I think this is heading: Americans are increasingly (no pun intended) obese. Which is unhealthy. It happens in part because we don’t control what we eat. So we get fatter and fatter. Which increases the demand for healthcare, which is expensive and getting more so. (Stay with me here, I’m on a roll!) But this research indicates it’s not always our fault that we eat junk that's bad for us. We just can’t help ourselves; we’re rats — minus the tails and the nasty reputation for carrying plague.

So what can we do? Who can help us? Why, the government, of course. It can impose regulations on what we eat! (Think New York Michael Bloomberg on steroids — figuratively, not literally.)

That’s right, all you gun nuts out there worried about the government taking away your AR-15s with the 30-round magazines filled with cop-killer ammo you bought to protect your doomsday house in Montana — wake up! You should be worried about having your Slurpees and Big Macs and, yes, Oreos removed from your sweaty, fat fingers.

At least, that’s what I think I think.

Then again, it could just be the Oreos talking.


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