What Oreos Are Doing To Your Waistline

By: Dr. Melody Hart

When you eat refined processed sugars, they trigger production of your brain’s natural opioids — a key ingredient in the addiction process. Your brain essentially becomes addicted to stimulating the release of its own opioids as it would to morphine or heroin.

This addictive nature of sugar and processed food has again been confirmed by a psychology professor and a team of students at the College of Connecticut,1, 2 who showed that Oreo cookies are just as addictive as cocaine or morphine.

What is a processed food →

The study, which was designed to investigate the potential addictiveness of high-fat/high-sugar foods, also found that eating Oreos activated more neurons in the rat brain’s pleasure center than exposure to illicit drugs did. According to professor Schroeder:

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

The idea for the study originated with neuroscience major Jamie Honohan, who wanted to know how the high prevalence of junk foods in low-income neighborhoods might contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Indeed, it’s quite revealing to note that, in contrast to third-world countries, in the US the poorest people have the highest obesity rates. This seeming contradiction is, I believe, a clear indication that the problem stems from the diet itself.

Researching processed food

Something in the cheapest and most readily available foods is creating metabolic havoc, and that’s exactly what researchers keep finding. As reported by Connecticut college:

“…Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine. ‘This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/ high sugar foods can be thought of as addictive,’ said Schroeder.

And that could be a problem for the general public, says Honohan. ‘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,’ she said.”

Please note that I do not agree with the comment that everything that is considered high-fat is bad for you. Oreo cookies and virtually every other processed snack are bad because they use highly processed omega-6 vegetable oils, the wrong type of fat. However it is possible to make a healthy high-fat snack using oils like coconut oil.

Processed Foods Are DESIGNED to Be Addictive

Indeed, scientific research into the addictive nature of certain foods, combined with shocking “insider” exposés,3 tells us that Americans are not necessarily lacking in self control when it comes to their food consumption. Rather, food companies have perfected food concoctions that are addictive. And they know it.

Most people blindly believe that food companies will do the right thing; that they would never produce food that might be toxic or harmful. This, we’ve learned is not the case.

The food industry is well aware of its role in creating obesity, and they’re not ignorant as to the reason why Americans can’t seem to get enough junk food. They even insist on selling foods to the American market with ingredients that have been banned for health reasons in other countries…

Most processed foods are actually created to be addictive—whether we’re talking about cookies or pasta sauce—through the masterful use of addictive ingredients like salt, fat, sugar and a wide variety of proprietary flavorings.

Reporters’ investigation

In a previous New York Times article,4 investigative reporter Michael Moss wrote about the extraordinary science behind taste and junk food addiction, and how multinational food companies struggle to maintain their “stomach shares” in the face of mounting evidence that their foods are driving the health crisis.

In it he mentions a 1999 meeting between 11 CEOs in charge of America’s largest food companies, including Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars, where their role in the increasingly poor health of Americans was addressed head-on. Moss writes in part:

“James Behnke, a 55-year-old executive at Pillsbury… was engaged in conversation with a group of food-science experts who were painting an increasingly grim picture of the public’s ability to cope with the industry’s formulations —

From the body’s fragile controls on overeating to the hidden power of some processed foods to make people feel hungrier still. It was time, he and a handful of others felt, to warn the C.E.O.’s that their companies may have gone too far in creating and marketing products that posed the greatest health concerns.“

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