Health News Review

Vapid news filling the news void.  And when you read the stories, they are strikingly, mindlessly identical.  40 and counting on a web search by 8 a.m. Central time today.

“Do you sometimes feel like you’re addicted to Oreos? Well, that might not be as crazy as it seems,” reports a St. Louis TV station.

“Addicted to Oreos? You truly might be,” reports the NBC Today show website.

“If you’ve ever been unable to stop yourself from eating too many Oreo cookies it may not be your fault,” reports Fox News.

“A recent scientific study shows that the reason your cookie-fueled Fourth Meal turns out to be such a fiasco is that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine,” reports the website.

But did the study show that?

Not in people, only in rats.

All the stories we checked appeared to be based solely on a news release from Connecticut College, where the study was done.

Before I logged off, I just checked again.  We’re now up to 50 stories.  We could hit 100 by noon.

Journalism via news release – as addictive as crack.

Update at 11:22 a.m. Central time:  as predicted, more than 100 stories now show up on a web search.


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Daniel Pendick posted on October 21, 2013 at 10:04 am

I personally felt that the bigger problem with the story was equating a complex phenomenon like human addiction to the expression of the c-Fos gene in the nucleus accumbens. Isn’t it misleading to call the nucleus accumbens the brain’s “pleasure center”?

Kenneth Litwak posted on October 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Not only were they trying to model a complex human phenomenon in a rat, but the entire study only lasted 8 days, at which point the rats were killed and their brains examined.

This is certainly no indicator of addiction or any other human condition that develops over weeks, months, and years. The study that spawned this media frenzy has only been accepted as an abstract at a conference and does not appear to have undergone any form of rigorous peer review. While this is an entertaining news story, its’ scientific value is likely marginal, at best…having proven only that rats like Oreos.