Can differences in motor physical fitness (Eurofit) between obese and nonobes children be used to develop more effective interventions in order to increase physical fitness of obese children at early school age?

Student thesis: Master-after-master


Obesity is an increasing health problem, starting already in primary school children. Promotion of physical activity programs at schools should take the motor performance of overweight children into account. Little is known about the variability in young children's performance on tests of motor fitness. A study was designed to see whether the EUROFIT test battery (Adam et al., 1988) can be used to initiate health related physical fitness programs in obese children.

- Determine whether the EUROFIT Test Battery for children of 12-18 years old is reliable for testing children between 6 and 12 years of age;
- Determine differences in the motor physical fitness between obese and non - obese children.

Material and Procedure
A randomised control group (N=42) was constructed for the obese children (patients) group (N=179). These controls were matched according to age and gender.
The reliability of the EUROFIT test for children between 6 and 12 years old has been tested by a test - retest with one week interval on the control group.
Standard statistics (a.o. t-tests) were used for determining reliability and differences between the experimental groups.
The significance level for all tests was set on 5%.

Results and conclusions
The Eurofit test showed to be reasonable reliable. At retesting a learning effect could be noticed for plate-tapping, handgrip strength and sit-ups. The feasibility of the "flamingo" balance test and bent-arm hang test was found to be very low in the experimental group. Respectively 62.1% and 80.5% of the children were unable to perform this tests.
The obese subjects scored significantly worse for all test components requiring propulsion or lifting of the body (standing broad jump, sit - up, bent-arm hang and the speed shuttle - run). Obese children had significantly higher scores for the handgrip strength test and similar scores on the components of flexibility (sit & reach) and speed and coordination of the limbs (plate tapping). Results are in line with the study of Deforche et al. (2003).
As to bring obese children to more physical activity, it is suggested to avoid bodyweight bearing exercises in the beginning of physical activity interventions. Obese children will experience more success with exercises emphasizing their static strength and speed of limb movements. An adaptation of the "flamingo" balance test and bent-arm hang tests are required for the use in the young age group, given their low feasibility scores.

Adam C, Klissouras V, Ravazzolo M, Renson R, Tuxworth W ; "Eurofit : European Test of Physical Fitness."; Rome, Italy: Council of Europe, Committee for the Development of Sports; 1988
Deforche B, Lefevre J, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Hills A.P., Duquet W., Boeckaert J.; "Physical fitness and physical activity in obese and nonobese Flemish youth" ; OBESITY RESEARCH; 11; (3); 434-441;2003
Date of Award2 Sep 2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorEvert Zinzen (Promotor), Peter Clarys (Co-promotor), Jean De Schepper (Co-promotor), Bas de Geus (Jury) & Kevin De Pauw (Jury)


  • physical fitness
  • childhood obesity
  • Eurofit
  • Health and fitness

Cite this