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Put vegetables in 3D printers to make children eat them, research suggests

Experts believe forming food into shapes such as insects and sea creatures could become the norm in restaurants, schools and homes

Sunday 23 July 2017 16:21 BST
Cutting vegetables into shapes could be the key to getting children to eat them
Cutting vegetables into shapes could be the key to getting children to eat them (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Vegetables should be made into shapes using 3D printers to persuade children eat them, researchers have suggested.

Experiments were conducted using a range of fruit and vegetables which were moulded into different structures to attract primary school children.

A team of academics blended banana, white beans, mushrooms and milk before pouring the mixture into a 3D printer.

A computer was then used to produce a snack in the shape of an octopus.

Experts believe the 3D printing of food could become the norm in restaurants, schools and homes and the lead author of the study, Professor Carla Severini, of the University of Foggia, said the results were an indication of where the future was heading.

“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],” Ms Severini told the Times.

“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."

The results were published in the Journal of Food Engineering and Nadia El Hadery, chief executive of YFood, believes the usage of 3D printers provides an opportunity to experiment with different food types.

“For too long British children have had a massive disconnect with their food and the obesity crisis is a symptom of this,” she said.

“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.

“Printing out meals is a powerful opportunity to do this as it allows for experimentation with flavours, form and texture."

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