Jul 25, 2017 | By David

We’ve seen countless times how the use of 3D printing can lead to pioneering new discoveries in science, and bring about major advances and innovations in sectors like architecture, aviation, and even space travel. Some recent research, however, has suggested a much more mundane application for the technology, albeit one that could solve one of the oldest problems faced by society- how to get kids to eat their vegetables. A team at the University of Foggia believes that 3D printing different types of foods into interesting and fun shapes could encourage children to eat things that would usually put them off, and lead to a much better diet.

The experiments carried out by the team involved using a range of different fruits and vegetables, blended together and moulded into shapes using 3D printing. These were then placed out for a group of primary school children to try, with the appeal of different shapes compared to others being measured. An otherwise-unappealing mixture of banana, white beans, mushrooms and milk was shaped into an octopus using a 3D printer, hopefully to make it a more enticing prospect. The results were promising, and experts believe that 3D printing food like this could eventually become the norm in schools and in the home, as well as in restaurants.

According to Professor Carla Severini, “This snack was based on ingredients that are sources of iron, calcium and vitamin D. Some of these are not appreciated by children, but in the shape of an octopus [it’s different]... Other examples are with fish and cauliflower, two ingredients traditionally rejected by children. Also we are investigating printed snacks based on insects, which are very rich in terms of protein but absolutely rejected by western people. Could different mixtures be mass-produced and bought in by schools? We strongly hope so."

3D printing foods into fun shapes in order to make them more palatable to a fickle youngster could hopefully bring about better eating habits and improved nutrition for a whole generation of people, which would lead to improved health in later life too.  It would go some way towards tackling the obesity crisis that is facing many developed nations around the world.

Nadia El Hadery, chief executive of YFood, suggest a ‘disconnect’ between kids and their diet as a possible root cause of this epidemic , and believes that the experimental potential of 3D printing with food would also help nutrition and lead to fewer overweight children and adults.

“The best way to teach them about nutrition and a healthy diet is for them to grow, prepare and cook their own dishes and make it exciting from a young age’’ she says. ‘’Printing out meals is a powerful opportunity to do this as it allows for experimentation with flavours, form and texture."

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Food Engineering, and they point to a healthier and tastier future for society, with 3D printing technology driving these positive changes in the way we eat and think about food.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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