Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oreos: Addictive or Victim of Bad Science?

Just when you thought an Oreo was just a harmless glucose-delivery device, here's the latest in addiction news:

Oreos addictive: Undergraduate researchers at Connecticut College found that rats respond to Oreo cookies much like they respond to cocaine and morphine. via Christian Scientist Monitor

The sub-title tells almost everything you need to know about this mess.

Undergraduate researchers!
 Rats!
Oreos...much like...cocaine and morphine!

Nabisco must be quaking.

Here's the skinny on the sugar-seeking rodents:
Undergraduate researchers at Connecticut College have found that rats tend to behave toward the iconic cookies the same way they behave toward cocaine and morphine. The researchers – a team of four undergrads led by Conn College neuroscience professor Joseph Schroeder – placed rats in a maze with Oreo cookies on one side and rice cakes on the other, measuring the amount of time the rats spent on each side.
Our furry friends spent more time nibbling the Oreos. So next the co-eds must have swapped out the stale rice cakes for some cocaine, right? They surely must have done an experiment with cookies and cocaine...Double Stuf versus White Stuf.

Ah....no.

They never directly compared cocaine and Oreos, not in an experiment anyhow. In another study they let the rats hang out with either cocaine or saline. Hhmm. Feel-good drug or salt water? Eric Clapton didn't sing about salt water and rice cakes or cookies. Apparently the rats spent about the same amount of time in the last experiment coking it up as they did in the previous one scarfing down the cookies.

This finding led the kiddie investigators and their adult mentor to conclude rats must like cookies as much as  cocaine. Which means humans must also love cookies as much as nose candy. And that people who love coke also love cookies and vice versa because there's virtually no difference between the two.

Which explains why Keith Richards just cannot keep the weight off. Oreo Whore. He must have been eating Oreos when he fell from that coconut tree in Fiji.

Which means someone, five someones, better go back to Research Methods 101.

Unless we've re-vamped our scientific process to accommodate personal beliefs and professional aspirations and goodness knows I wouldn't put it past Congress at this point....an experimental group from Study A cannot be directly compared to an experimental group from Study B. That's bad science. The comparison between dessert and cocaine is just talk. The studies are not published at this point, thankfully. If the students had done a study finding rats spent more time listening to Mitch McConnell than Harry Reid they might have concluded rats object to the national health plan too and that Obamacare is no different from Oreos or illicit drugs.

Do the actual experiment, coke versus cookies, kids, and get back to me.

I will also point out there is absolutely no evidence of addiction here either. Nonetheless the media so milked it*:
College Study Finds Oreo Cookies Are As Addictive As Drugs Fox News
Oreos May Be As Addictive As Cocaine Time
Why Oreos Are As Addictive As Cocaine To Your Brain Forbes 
Could Oreos Be As Addictive as Cocaine? ABC News

Oreos As Addictive as Cocaine New York Post

Oreos As Addictive as Cocaine: How To Kick Your Habit LA Times

Addicted to Oreos? You Truly Might Be Today

I could go on and on with the headlines but I've got a life to lead, a mid-life crisis to plan. Cheers.

* When mainstream media headlines sound no different or even more sensational than those at Natural News, I want to eat an entire bag of Oreos. A person can only cope with so much.

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