Oreos as Addictive as Cocaine

Oreos

Like drugs

A new study finds that Oreo cookies are as addictive as cocaine or morphine – at least for lab rats.

As usual this finding gets blamed on the “high-fat, high-sugar” nature of the cookies. Is that really right?

I checked the nutrition panel on Swedish Oreos and they are 65 percent carb (mostly sugar) and only 21 percent fat. That’s high-sugar for sure, but it’s not really high-fat. Olive oil, at a hundred percent, is high-fat.

However, there’s no question that the fat is necessary to make the cookies taste better and be more addictive. Without fat these cookies would be as addictive as sugar straight from a bag – not very.

You can make sugar addictive without fat though, soda is a great example. Make it a fluid to be quickly absorbed and add caffeine for an extra addictive punch.

Fat can be necessary to make processed food taste better. But it’s likely the huge amount of sugar and flour in these cookies that makes the fat-storing insulin shoot through the roof and makes people fat.

22 Comments

  1. Michelle
    This is funny. I had a binge on these only last night. My Mother came with a pack and made me a cup of tea because I'm unwell at the moment. She had one and persuaded me to have one. She left the packet. I ate the rest. My mum won't listen to me. I've tried so many times to tell her that I chose not to eat these types of foods. So here I am fighting the impulse to have bread for breakfast.
  2. John
    I remember these. Bet I haven't had one in 45 years. But I remember how highly addictive they were. The safest way to avoid them is just don't buy them. They are kind-of-like potato- chips. Bet you can't eat just one.
  3. Marcy
    Actually, sweets were never my addiction problem, I struggle with salty, crispy carby things like fries and chips. Although, peanut M&M's could also get my attention.
  4. Ondrej
    If you need a study to tell you oreo cookies are bad for you, you are a moron!
  5. Paul the rat
    Something which is BAD for me does not mean that it is ADDICTIVE (and vice versa - some people are addicted to 6 mile run/day). Cited studies show that oreo cookies are ADDICTIVE.
    P.S.
    although I am a rat and these studies were preformed on rats, personally I never had one of those cookies - maybe I should try one and see what happens.
  6. Buck
    Seems like a few people here have missed the point. It's not Oreo cookies that are addictive it's SUGAR! This experiment has been going on with humans for decades without their knowledge. You can buy a fix of Oreo cookies or any other sugar filled snack for a couple dollars or less. A fix of cocaine will cost you 10 or 20 times that. So, if you can get your endorphin's stimulated with sweet tasting, legal, available anytime anywhere, and almost free sugar, why would you choose cocaine.
    Replies: #7, #17
  7. Paul the rat
    It goes without saying Buck.
  8. Z.M.
    Paul, since you're a rat you would be highly resistant to atherosclerosis. You should be able to indulge in Oreos without problem!
  9. grinch
    Glad to see you are acknowledging that fat can increase palatability and hence the addictive quality of the food. I don't find soda addictive or any other sugar-only product because they just aren't very palatable to me. Fat + sugar is good stuff and that's my weakness.
  10. Francois
    It gets me wondering to see the need of some people to state as sole analysis of any situation that people who do "x" are "morons". A few posts ago, there was a comment that Sam Feltham was a "moron". No he is not. Sam is making the point that all calories are not the same and have different biochemical and physiological effects on the body. He is willing to self-experiment (a felllow physician, Dr Peter Attia, also self-experiments). It certainly is more courageous than experimenting on other people and putting others at risk of anything... Peter Attia is brilliant and so is Sam Feltham. If this is being a moron, then I whish there were more of this type of moron on the planet.

    Rather than have the curiosity to go and read what the junior researchers did and why they did it, to state that "they are morons because "you don't need an experiment to prove that Oreo cookies are bad for you" " brings nothing to the discussion. What these young researchers wanted to do was to "shed light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat/ high-sugar foods". One can question the choice of Oreo cookies: there is more to junk food than Oreo cookies, though they are a good - and unfortunately delicious - example. If fast food is so popular, there is a reason, and it is not only marketing. There is something about this type of food that makes people come back for more. This is the point these young researchers wanted to make. To "know" that something is "bad for you" is not quite enough if people keep on eating it regardless. Nearly all smokers know cigarettes are bad for them. They nevertheless smoke. I work in the States. Most of my colleague physicians, though they know sodas are "bad for them" (I provided them with multiple articles to prove the point) still drink between 3 and 5 cans per day of the stuff.

    It is also unfortunate that people have been so brainwashed that "fat is bad" that "high fat" is nearly always associated with "high sugar" in the same sentence. It so happens that food that is neither high in fat or sugar is rather bland and boring. A lean cut of beef is OK. A fat cut tastes so much better, as fat greatly enhances the taste. And it is true: junk food is for the most part a combination of high fat and high (quick acting) carbs.

    So first negative comment about the study: putting together "high fat" and "high carbs" and not considering whether one or the other is the problem rather than lumping them. Another negative comment I can make about their experiment is that they do not search what was published on the subject and do not read studies. A simple google scholar search brings an article by Garber and Lustig (the Lustig) titled "is food addictive?". if they had read the article, they would have found that "However, so-called “high-fat foods” are almost always also high in carbohydrates (e.g. pizza or cookies) in experimental design and in the real world. In fact, Drewnowski et al. showed that adding sugar significantly enhanced preference for high fat foods among normal weight human subjects. And while some foods could be too sweet (decreased preference), there was no limit for preference with increasing fat content. Thus, the synergy of high fat along with high sugar is likely to be more effective at stimulating addictive overeating than fat alone". There are many other articles on the addictive properties of sugar but this one makes the point.

    Knowing the effect of sugar on insulin secretion and fat storage and its detrimental effect on our genome, turning it on to inflammation when total carbs are above 40% calories, knowing it has addictive effects on top of it makes me even more want to avoid sugar and fast food and stick to a LCHF/paleo diet.

  11. Peo
    Does anyone even read the headline? Where is this site going? I am so disappointed. Thought this was a place to go to read interesting stuff. Now it is just uninteresting news. Rats had the same addiction to sugar as to cocaine? wow.
    Reply: #15
  12. Pat
    I saw a video of this yesterday on the MSN site. While I did agree with most of them, the only thing I didn't agree was the high fat. Here we go again on blaming fats. The only fats in the Oreos are veg oils and trans fats that make them addictive with the flour and sugar carbs.
    I remember eating the double stuff ones. I can agree about how eating one isn't enough. While
    not 100% of people aren't affect of this; but, there's lot of people who can eat the whole bag.
    Reply: #14
  13. FrankG
    It makes a great deal of sense to me that researchers are looking into the physiology, the biochemistry of WHY we eat what we eat. I'm sure in due time we'll learn (as we did with big tobacco) that the food manufacturers already have all the data needed to determine the best mix of ingredients to keep us coming back for more -- personally I've absolutely no doubt that sugar and refined starches, with their effect on insulin, are the major players -- meantime we need health advocates and societal attitudes to catch up (just as they did with tobacco), before something can be done about it.

    As for the headline and the hype... blame the media. It's what sells!

  14. Galina L.
    I can't finish even one. Oreos are a good example how people(not rats) react on the food they conditioned to eat from a childhood. I tried it first at 36 years old, and had to discretely spit it into a waste basket - sickeningly sweet, often too much added flavor + that horrible combination of mint and chocolate. Most of American sweet treats are too sweet for people from other continents. American meat tastes great, chips are really addictive, but not cakes, cookies, pies, candies.
  15. Daniel Ferreira
    Why are you mad?
  16. Marcy
    Galina, you hit the nail on the head. I am American and our sweets are too sweet for me. In fact, my husband and I have invented a new catagory of sweets when something is over the top sweet, we call this "American sweet".
  17. Maggan A

    it's SUGAR!

    And the wheat!

    dubbeltrubbel....

  18. GP
    What's your problem with cocaine? :P

    It's not that addictive like people tend to make it out to be. It's better to snore some cocaine from time to time and eat real food rather than not doing drugs and eating shitty foods.

  19. Galina L.
    Yes, it is much easier for me to stay away from sweets in US than in my native country, however I miss eating sushi (not my native food, I got instantly addicted to it after trying for a first time). Another example of taste differences - I remember reading on a Daily Apple comments how people on a paleo diet were missing an ice cream Cherry Garcia. I saw it next day in tiny $1 containers, and decided to try out of curiosity - another thing I couldn't finish - besides too much sugar (usual problem) , it contained too much of some sort of almond essence or an extract of cherry pits. Palateability is not universal when it comes to a flavor, amount of spices and sweetness tolerance.
    Reply: #20
  20. FrankG
    You could still eat sashimi Galina :-)
  21. samc
    It isn't just the sugar or the wheat or the processed oils and salts. It is the delicate seductive dance that commingles all of these ingredients into an addictive substance. Now I wouldn't eat them, but certainly in the past I could power through large amounts of the Oreo's or thousands of similarly addictive crap. Now I OD on salads.
  22. Galina L.
    I also use salads and vegetables as a fan food to eat - it tastes good, while doesn't contain much nutrients, just something to bring culinary variety. I am appalled by the advice to live on rabbit food because vegetables "packed with nutrition" - it is hardly so, and not everyone could do well with too much fiber.

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