The relationship of overweight and obesity to the motor performance of children living in South Africa

  • L Truter
  • D Du Toit


Objectives: This study aimed to determine the relationship between overweight and obesity and the motor performance of nine- to 13-year-old South African children.
Design: The study used a one-way cross-sectional design based on baseline measurements.
Settings and subjects: The research group comprised 280 Grade 4, 5 and 6 learners (128 boys and 152 girls) from two schools that represented a distribution of socio-economic status, race and gender.
Outcome measures: Anthropometric [(body mass index (BMI) and fat percentage] and motor performance measurements (fine manual control, manual coordination, body coordination and strength and agility) were obtained by means of the Fitnessgram and the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-II. International age-specific cut-off points were used to classify the children’s body composition as normal weight, overweight or obese. Data were analysed by means of descriptive statistics, correlation matrices and analysis of variance, followed by a Tukey post hoc analysis.
Results: The results showed that running speed and agility decreased significantly with an increase in BMI. Muscular strength also decreased significantly with a smaller practical significance, while fine manual control, manual coordination, and body coordination showed the weakest relationship to BMI. Analysis of variance showed significant relationships between BMI and running speed and agility (p-value < 0.05). These relationships were influenced differently by gender and ethnicity.
Conclusion: The motor performance of young South African children was negatively influenced by overweight and obesity. Intervention strategies are recommended to reduce the consequences of overweight and obesity in the overall development of such children.

S Afr Fam Pract 2012;54(5):429-435

Author Biographies

L Truter
School of Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus
D Du Toit
School of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6204
print ISSN: 2078-6190