Recently Natural Machines made the news with more detailed specifications about their long-expected healthy food printer, which will be released later on this year. The news was remarkable, as food printing today mainly refers to producing less healthy products, such as chocolates, sweets and space pizzas. Now, only two weeks later, another party is trying the healthier side of food printing. And not just some party, because it’s the European Union, working on a food printer to prepare personalized meals for the elder
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This project regards to an older target group, as in 2025 one in five citizens in the EU will be 65-years-old and over. The general problem with this group is that a lot of them will undergo difficulties swallowing their food. This condition is called dysphagia and studies show that today 15 to 25 percent of all people over 50 years suffer from such a condition. The problem however is that the same group has a higher risk of getting sick in some way, which often requires specialized diets. If someone can’t swallow properly, then that surely is a problem.
Of course there are pureed foods to provide for nutritious meals, without having to face the difficulties of swallowing larger pieces. However, as the team behind the EU project points out, such pureed meals can be unappealing and unappetizing to the elderly, leading to a reduced quality of life. Moreover, an NCBI study shows that one-third of the people with dysphagia even avoid eating with others, because of their disease.