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Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Jan;37(1):61-7. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.55. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

A longitudinal analysis of gross motor coordination in overweight and obese children versus normal-weight peers.

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Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



The relationship of childhood overweight (OW) and obesity (OB) with motor skill and coordination is gaining due attention; however, longitudinal evidence is currently lacking.


The dual purpose of this study was (1) to investigate the short-term evolution in the level of gross motor coordination according to children's weight status, and (2) to identify those factors predicting their gross motor coordination performance over a 2-year interval.


Participants were 50 children with OW, including 8 with OB (aged 6-10 years at baseline, with 52% boys), and 50 with normal-weight (NW) matched for gender and age.


Anthropometrics (body height, body weight, body mass index (BMI), %body fat) and level of gross motor coordination (K├Ârperkoordinationstest f├╝r Kinder, KTK) were assessed in 2007 (baseline) and 2 years later in 2009 (follow-up). At baseline, participants completed a survey based on the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire (FPAQ) to obtain socio-demographic information and to determine physical activity levels in diverse domains.


The evolution in the level of gross motor coordination over time was strongly related to children's weight status. Participants in the NW group showed more progress than their OW/OB peers, who demonstrated significantly poorer performances. Accordingly, between-group differences in KTK outcomes (that is, raw item scores and total motor quotient) became more evident over time. Multiple linear regression analysis further indicated that, in addition to BMI per se (negative predictor), participation in organized sports within a sports club (positive predictor) determines gross motor coordination performance(s) 2 years later.


Our results provide conclusive evidence for an increasingly widening gap of OW/OB children's gross motor coordination relative to NW peers across developmental time in the absence of targeted initiatives. Special attention is thus needed for OW/OB children, especially for those not practicing sports in a club environment, in terms of motor skill improvement to promote regular participation in physical activity.

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