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

I. Gentier, Eva D'Hondt, S. Shultz, Benedicte Deforche, M. Augustijn, S. Hoorne, K. Verlaecke, I. De Bourdeaudhuij, M. Lenoir

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92 Citations (Scopus)


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 girls & 22 boys, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4043-4051
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • children
  • obesity
  • gross motor skills
  • fine motor skills
  • fine motor precision
  • fine motor integration
  • manual dexterity


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