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Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 12;8(1):5908. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24139-y.

Understanding physical (in-) activity, overweight, and obesity in childhood: Effects of congruence between physical self-concept and motor competence.

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University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Willibald Gebhardt Institute, Münster, Germany.


Both the physical self-concept and actual motor competence are important for healthy future physical activity levels and consequently decrease overweight and obesity in childhood. However, children scoring high on motor competence do not necessarily report high levels of physical self-concept and vice versa, resulting in respective (in-) accuracy also referred to as (non-) veridicality. This study examines whether children's accuracy of physical self-concept is a meaningful predictive factor for their future physical activity. Motor competence, physical self-concept and physical activity were assessed in 3rd grade and one year later in 4th grade. Children's weight status was categorized based on WHO recommendations. Polynomial regression with Response surface analyses were conducted with a quasi-DIF approach examining moderating weight status effects. Analyses revealed that children with higher motor competence levels and higher self-perceptions show greater physical activity. Importantly, children who perceive their motor competence more accurately (compared to less) show more future physical activity. This effect is strong for underweight and overweight/obese children, but weak for normal weight children. This study indicates that an accurate self-perception of motor competence fosters future physical activity beyond single main effects, respectively. Hence, the promotion of actual motor competence should be linked with the respective development of accurate self-knowledge.

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