Alix O’Hara is the founder and CEO of Mashblox Pty. Ltd., a multidisciplinary consumer goods company with a full purpose business model, backed by a powerful idea:
What if obesity trends and infant fussy eating had a common cause; not with what we eat, but how we are taught to eat?
Up to 50% of children go through a phase of picky eating that some never grow out of, causing enormous stress to their parents. Bringing unprecedented relief, Alix’s company produces Mashblox; soft, hollow, silicone building blocks that fit into the palm of the hand as an infant self-feeding aid. As their motto says, “Mashblox #MakesGoodFoodsFun.” Mashblox provides a practical solution for safe and healthy self-feeding by using children’s natural tendencies to play with their food and explore the world through their mouths. After all, this is how babies learned to feed themselves for millennia before the advent of spoons and spoon feeding, eating disorders and obesity trends currently costing the world economy $2 trillion per annum.
When mash foods are placed into the Mashblox, they are more likely to be eaten because the product bridges the gap between age appropriate textures and children’s ability to handle them at any age. Likewise, children are able to stop when they’ve had enough to eat, rather than eating as much as a parent thinks they should. Early consumer research supports the fact that many fussy behaviours have roots in the child’s desire for independence and aversion to how the food looks or feels. Either way, when it’s put in the blox, there’s no problem.
In addition to assisting parents with fussy eaters, Mashblox is the first company to provide a safe, scalable, commercial solution to obesity intervention. In fact, Alix’ desk research strongly indicates that obesity and fussy eating often start from a common point of origin ─ parents who unnecessarily influence the natural process of feeding, and she’s used this research case to open commercial doors around the world.
Mashblox returns control and independence to where it is most effective - the hands of infants. “Our customer research indicates that when infants are taught to feed themselves, they are better prepared for happy, mindful, eating habits and a healthier BMI, as well as healthier food preferences,” says Alix. “The Mashblox just make this possible for both the parents and child.” Mashblox also promotes problem solving, motor skills, and mess saving.
Because of Mashblox’ unique and engaging approach to such significant health benefits, the product won a National Non-Toxic Award for ethical baby brands in Australia. It is also the only practical product solution supporting recommendations for infant self-feeding, promoted both U.K. and Canada government authorities, for their economic and population health benefits. Based upon 2008 estimates, Alix’ initiative is projected to save the Australian economy a potential $19.2 billion in adult obesity related healthcare costs and she is currently making local government policy recommendations for preventative health management. “We approach from infant intervention, a critical period responsible for 20% of adult obesity. I understand the adjusted value of preventative methods to the global economy to be $400 billion USD per annum,” Alix adds.
As the leader of the innovative new market capitalizing on infant self-feeding trends currently emerging around the world, Mashblox offers a variety of investment and commercial opportunities. Presently, Alix and her team are prototyping an app to scale consumer engagement with infant self-feeding tactics, that is positioning to partner with both childcare and insurance companies. Mashblox IP also brings scalability to the future of baby food delivery by rotating the multi-nationally patented silicone units on a circular economy, or by creating them of a bioplastic formula.
Most recently, Alix connected Monash University with SMARTlab, both of whom have offered her a PhD placement for her approach, “scaling obesity intervention and driving greater population adoption of infant self-feeding via commercial means. These efforts have registered interest with the Department of Health U.K., where self-feeding research started; and with the Embassy of Italy, where one in five children are now overweight or obese despite the lowest rates of adult obesity in the OECD,” says Alix.
Although junk food is part of the problem, Alix argues that the amount of food an individual is taught to eat is a leading driver of obesity rates, especially in infancy and early childhood. “Both food preferences and satiety are programmed starting in infancy, and that’s where interventions need to start also,” she says. “We believe that this is the missing link to manage both fussy eating and obesity.”
If you have a fussy eater, Alix recommends top tips:
How we learn to eat is just as important as what we're eating.
Your baby is born knowing how much they need better than we can: they just need the tools and support to feed themselves. Sometimes fussy behaviours are just because we're rushing them, or offering more than they need.
Fussy eating is often more about how a food looks on the plate or spoon, or feels on their fingers, than the taste. For a happier experience for everyone, try experimenting with different delivery styles, changing flavours, textures or presentation, or especially giving them control.
Mashblox supports children and parents with all of the above.
Inventor, Founder, and CEO
Mashblox Pty. Ltd.
Read the obesity intervention research case: http://bit.ly/Research-Case
Benefits to fussy eating: http://bit.ly/HelpingFussyEaters
LinkedIn: Alix O’Hara https://www.linkedin.com/in/alixohara/