Physical Activity and Obesity’s Relationship with Motor Skills in Children Ages 3 – 5 Years Old: National Youth Fitness Survey
Wood, Aaron P.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was 3-fold: (a) to examine the relationship between physical activity (PA) and motor skills in children ages 3-5 years old, (b) to examine the relationship between obesity and motor skills in children ages 3-5 years old, and (c) to examine the combined relationship of PA and obesity on motor skills. Methods: Secondary data analysis was performed using NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey (NNYFS) focusing on children between 3 - 5 years of age. NNYFS collected data on 1,500 children (3-15 years) and of these 342 children were the appropriate age and had the variables of interest to this analysis. Collected measures that were used included a PA questionnaire (PAQ), where the PAQ asked about overall engagement in PA and specific types of PA. All children had weight, height, and triceps/calf skinfolds measured. Using these measurements body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage were calculated. Children were then placed into the BMI categories: normal weight (5th to <85th percentile), overweight (85th to <95th percentile), or obese (greater-than or equal to 95th percentile). The children also completed Test of Gross Motor Development - Second Edition. Subscales for locomotor and object control motor skills along with a motor quotient score were calculated. Mean, standard deviation, and frequencies of descriptive variables were calculated. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the independent and combined relationships between PA days, PA types, weight status (BMI or percent body fat), and motor skill controlling for sex, race, and parent's socioeconomic status. Results: Of the 342 (176 boys, and 166 girls) children that participated the majority were Caucasian (52%) followed by Hispanic (26%). Over 80% of the children were reported to participate in PA participation for seven days and the top activities they participated in included running (43%), playing outdoor games (35%), riding a bike (34%), playing active games (19%), and walking (17%). The children's motor skill scores were considered average for the subscales and overall. The number of days in which children participated in PA was not related to motor quotient score (p=.30). When the relationship between participation of a specific PA in the past seven days and total motor skill score was examined, the results indicated that not participating in certain PA types was related to a lower motor quotient score. This relationship was observed in the following activities: bike riding ([beta] = -5.28 (1.92), p=.0071), scooter riding ([beta] = -9.67 (2.36), p<.001), swimming ([beta] = -4.04 (1.03), p<.001), and jumping on a trampoline ([beta] = -7.38 (2.91), p=.0125). Whether weight status was determined by either BMI category or body fat percentage, no statistically significant relationships were observed between weight status and locomotor, object control, or gross motor quotient (p>.05). A significant interaction existed between BMI category and number of days participating in PA for the locomotor (p=.0002) and object control (p=.027) standard scores, but not with the gross motor quotient score (p>.05). Among the healthy weight children, the locomotor skill scores are similar regardless of how many days they participate in PA; however, among the children who were overweight or obese participating in more days of physical activity (4-6 or 7) were related to lower locomotor motor skill standard scores. There was no difference in the object control standard scores between healthy weight and overweight/obese children if they participated in 4-6 or 7 days of PA. In contrast, the object control motor skills were lower for the overweight/obese children than the healthy weight children who participated in 0-3 days of PA (p=.027). No interaction effects were present between weight status and PA participation on total motor skills. Meaning the number of days a child participated in PA and his/her weight status did not have an impact on the child's overall motor skills score. The joint relationship between BMI category and type of PA the child participated on the locomotor standard scores. While there appears to be an interaction effect, this was not statistically significant (p=.28). The object control standard scores were similar between the healthy weight and overweight/obese children who participated in no PA, locomotor focused PA and a combination of locomotor and object control PA. In contrast, when overweight/obese children participated in PA that was focused on object control activities, they had lower object control standard scores than healthy weight children who participated in only object control types of PA. For overall motor skills as determined by gross motor quotient, the weight status of the child and the type of PA that the child engages in does not jointly impact overall motor skills. Conclusion: Common activities preschool aged children engaged in were running, playing outdoor games, riding a bike, playing active games, walking, soccer, baseball, and basketball. Not participating in specific PA was related to poorer motor skills. Weight status was not related to motor skills in pre-school aged children. Regarding the joint relationships, overweight and obese children had lower locomotor skills even if they participated in more days of PA, but this finding was not observed in the healthy weight children. In contrast, fewer days of PA were related to lower object control score among overweight/obese children compared to health weight children. Finally, weight status and type of PA had an effect on object control scores, where the overweight/obese children had lower object control scores compared to healthy weight children even when they participated in PA that focused on this motor skill.
Wood, Aaron P.. (May 2018). Physical Activity and Obesity’s Relationship with Motor Skills in Children Ages 3 – 5 Years Old: National Youth Fitness Survey (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6741.)
Wood, Aaron P.. Physical Activity and Obesity’s Relationship with Motor Skills in Children Ages 3 – 5 Years Old: National Youth Fitness Survey. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, May 2018. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6741. November 30, 2023.
Wood, Aaron P., “Physical Activity and Obesity’s Relationship with Motor Skills in Children Ages 3 – 5 Years Old: National Youth Fitness Survey” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, May 2018).
Wood, Aaron P.. Physical Activity and Obesity’s Relationship with Motor Skills in Children Ages 3 – 5 Years Old: National Youth Fitness Survey [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; May 2018.
East Carolina University