Introduction: The prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing with its negative medical and psychosocial consequences. This paper examines the association between body mass index (BMI), motor abilities and leisure habits of 668 children within the CHILT (Children's Health InterventionaL Trial) project.
Method: A total of 668 children (51.0% boys; 49.0% girls) and their parents were questioned on sport and leisure behaviour of the children. The anthropometric data were measured. Motor abilities were determined by a body gross motor development test for children (Köperkoordinationstest für Kinder; KTK) and a 6-min run.
Results: The children were 6.70 +/- 0.42 y old, 122.72 +/- 5.36 cm tall and weighed 24.47 +/- 4.59 kg, the average BMI was 16.17 +/- 2.27 kg/m2. KTK showed an average motor quotient (MQ) of 93.49 +/- 15.01, the 6-min run an average of 835.24 +/- 110.87 m. Both tests were inversely correlated with BMI (KTK and BMI r=-0.164 (P<0.001); 6-min run and BMI r=-0.201 (P<0.001)); the group of overweight/obese children showed poorer results than the normal/underweight ones, even after adjustment for gender and age (in each case P<0.001). Children with the greatest extent of exercise achieve the highest MQ (P=0.035).
Summary: Overweight/obesity is associated with a poorer body gross motor development and endurance performance. On the other hand, an active lifestyle is positively correlated with a better gross motor development in first-grade children. Therefore, to prevent the negative consequences of physical inactivity and overweight/obesity early intervention to support exercise and movement is recommended.