Fine and gross motor skills differ between healthy-weight and obese children

Res Dev Disabil. 2013 Nov;34(11):4043-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.08.040. Epub 2013 Sep 13.


Within the obesity literature, focus is put on the link between weight status and gross motor skills. However, research on fine motor skills in the obese (OB) childhood population is limited. Therefore, the present study focused on possible weight related differences in gross as well as fine motor skill tasks. Thirty-four OB children (12 ♀ and 22 ♂, aged 7-13 years) were recruited prior to participating in a multidisciplinary treatment program at the Zeepreventorium (De Haan, Belgium). Additionally, a control group of 34 age and gender-matched healthy-weight (HW) children was included in the study. Anthropometric measures were recorded and gross and fine motor skills were assessed using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, second edition (BOT-2). Results were analyzed by independent samples t-tests, multivariate analysis of variance, and a chi-squared test. Being OB was detrimental for all subtests evaluating gross motor skill performance (i.e., upper-limb coordination, bilateral coordination, balance, running speed and agility, and strength). Furthermore, OB children performed worse in fine motor precision and a manual dexterity task, when compared to their HW peers. No group differences existed for the fine motor integration task. Our study provides evidence that lower motor competence in OB children is not limited to gross motor skills alone; OB children are also affected by fine motor skill problems. Further investigation is warranted to provide possible explanations for these differences. It is tentatively suggested that OB children experience difficulties with the integration and processing of sensory information. Future research is needed to explore whether this assumption is correct and what the underlying mechanism(s) could be.

Keywords: Children; Fine motor integration; Fine motor precision; Fine motor skills; Gross motor skills; Manual dexterity; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*