"Your brain reacts almost identically to [that of] a cocaine addict looking at cocaine," said Dr. Louis J. Aronne, a clinical professor at Weill Cornell Medical School and former president of The Obesity Society. "And the interesting thing is that someone who is obese has even more similarity to the cocaine addict. ... In many ways, they can be addicted to junk food."
Whether or not these findings could translate to people is unclear. Schroder said if these findings are replicated in studies with people, it could help the medical community and public health groups rethink how people approach obesity and diet.
"Perhaps the reason why we have the current obesity epidemic is that high fat and high sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine," Schroder said.
In addition to their findings on fatty and salty food, there was at least one more piece of surprising data for the researchers. It turns out rats prefer the cream filling.
"They would break [the cookie] open and eat the middle first," Honohan said.