Motor and Cognitive Performance of Overweight Preschool Children

Gross and fine motor skills and cognitive performance in obese and overweight children were compared to healthy weight children. Participants were 1,543 children (797 boys and 746 girls) ages 43 to 84 months, attending childcare centers in Munich, Germany.

  • According to German Body Mass Index (BMI) standards for age and sex, 4.6% of the children were classified as obese (percentile greater or equal 97), 6.8% as overweight (percentile greater or equal 90 and less than 97), 5.9% as underweight (percentile less than 10), and 83.1% as being of healthy weight.
  • Dependent variables were physical characteristics (height, weight, skinfold thickness), physical fitness (standing broad jump, shuttle run, hanging), body coordination (balancing forward, balancing backward, lateral jump, hopping), manual dexterity (right and left hand), and cognitive performance (intelligence, verbal ability, concentration).
  • Results showed:
    • Higher proportions of children from lower socioeconomic and immigrant backgrounds were overweight.
    • There was no association between weight and sex.
    • Overweight children showed lower performance on gross motor skills (coordination and fitness), manual dexterity, and intelligence compared to healthy weight children, even after controlling for the effects of social class and immigration status.

Krombholz, H. (2013). Motor and cognitive performance of overweight preschool children. Percept Mot Skills, 116(1), 40-57.

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