London: Young girls who exhibit poor fundamental movement skills – such as running, catching and balance – are more likely to be obese than boys who have similar low skills, according to a new study.
Researchers at Coventry University in the UK assessed skills of 250 girls and boys between six and 11 years, categorising their fundamental movement skills (FMS) as either low, medium or high.
They then cross-referenced the kid’s motor skills with their body fatness to investigate the relationship between the two. The children’s habitual physical activity was also taken into account.
The study found that body fatness was significantly higher among girls in the low FMS category compared with boys in the same category.
It also suggests that body fatness was higher for girls in the low FMS category compared with girls with medium or high fundamental movement skills.
There was no significant difference in body fatness across the low, medium and high FMS categories for boys, researchers said.
“We know from previous studies that primary school children with a higher body mass index are likely to have poorer fundamental movement skills, but our research is aiming to understand this relationship in more detail – particularly how gender may play a role,” said lead researcher Mike Duncan, professor at Coventry University.
“What we have found is significant because it signals a need to review the strategies we have to enhance motor proficiency in girls and means we should be engaging health practitioners and PE teachers to help explore and understand how additional opportunities or different techniques may be required compared with boys,” said Duncan.
“The next big question – which we are continuing to research – is whether developmental delays in acquiring these motor skills, whether in girls or boys, may actually be the cause of children gaining unhealthy weight status,” Duncan added.