In a study examining the relationship between exercise and food reward, participants who exercise the most get ultra-smooth, 3D-printed chocolate.
Ten families would be chosen for the first-of-its-kind study in which they will be equipped with 3D printers -- worth AUS 6,000 (about US$4590) -- in their homes.
They would wear heart monitors that measure their physical efforts and translate the kinetic energy into the chocolate-equivalent, piped out of the 3D printer.
"The more they exercise, the better the quality of chocolate will be printed out which they get to enjoy as a reflective reward of their physical activity,'' says Rohit Khot of RMIT University in Australia.
Chocolate would come out of the printer in the shape of participants' names, accompanied by chocolate smileys, flowers and hearts, according to Khot.
"Participants will be able to see their chocolate printed out after they exercise and we will study if this new edible mode of representation is enough to make exercise more engaging and enjoyable," he says.
There would be limits, however, for only antioxidant-rich dark chocolate would be printed and participants would not be able to receive more than 30 milliliters -- the rough equivalent of two small squares from a 200 gram chocolate bar.
"Academics are keen to see what more can be done to get people to exercise and to support the experience of being physically active and food based representations are the next step in that research,'' says Khot.
He admits that chocolate rewards might not be what it takes to motivate people to exercise more, and if it does, it might not be a solution to weight loss, according to a recent study at Arizona State University.
In this study, 81 overweight, sedentary women of an average age of 30 were given a 12-week, supervised exercise intervention without dietary restrictions.
Twelve weeks later, the women had garnered a notch in aerobic fitness but 70 percent of them had gained up to ten pounds -- in the form of fat and not muscle.
The study has been making headlines since its February publication in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and many hypothesize that exercise increases the appetite to a point where individuals gain weight.