Movement Assessment Battery for Children – Article Summary
DuBose, K. D., McMillan, A. G., Wood, A. P., & Sisson, S. B. (2018). Joint Relationship Between Physical Activity, Weight Status, and Motor Skills in Children Aged 3 to 10 Years. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2018; 125(3), 478–492. doi:10.1177/0031512518767008
In our society, physical activity (PA), obesity, and motor skills are all important components of the lives of children as they grow and develop. The relationship between these factors have been studied by previous research, and this study examined independent and combined relationships among these components. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between weight status and motor skills, PA levels and motor skills, and motor skills and PA levels between overweight/obese children and normal weight children.
To be included in this study, children had to be between 3-10 years old and free from disease that could restrict daily movement. 96 children were included in this cross-sectional study, and parents completed a questionnaire to determine variables such as the child’s race, sex, and parents’ education and income level. Participants were recruited via Facebook pages, childcare centers, and after-school programs.
Methods & Outcome Measures
Height and weight were gathered to calculate BMI. Children were placed into categories such as normal weight (BMI <85th percentile), overweight (>85th and <95th percentile) and obese (>95th percentile). Physical Activity (PA) was measured by having children wear accelerometers for at least four days (eight hours/day). Cut points were set to determine PA as light, moderate (MPA), moderate-to-vigorous (MVPA) and vigorous (VPA). Motor skills were examined with use of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children – 2nd edition (MABC-2). The test has been showed to be valid and reliable across a range of 3-16 years. The MABC-2 measures Manual Dexterity, Aiming and Catching, and Balance (with several subscores).
In the structure of this study, there was no specific intervention or intervention group. 75 of the 96 participants met the data criteria for wear time of the accelerometer, so data from those 75 were collected, studied, and interpreted.
The results of this study show that 19% of these children were overweight and 25% were obese by BMI. Of the participants, only 46% met Physical Activity Recommendations of 60 minutes of moderate activity daily. No significant motor skills test differences were found between normal and overweight/obese groups. The study found that children with more MPA showed higher Balance scores, and children with more MVPA had better Aiming and Catching scores. MPA and MVPA related positively to motor skills, but BMI did not.
Not many other studies examine the combined effect of PA and weight on children’s motor skills. The study chose a well-supported outcome measure (MABC-2) for assessment of motor skills, and standardized the process.
This study used BMI calculations to determine obesity, while other studies have used body fat percentage. This variability in studies has yielded mixed results on this topic in the literature. The authors of this studied suggested that familial factors (siblings, parents, economic status) could have influenced relationships between PA level and weight among the children. I was unfamiliar with the reliability of using accelerometers to gauge intensity of physical activity throughout the day.
The study was successful in exploring the multifactorial relationships among Physical Activity, Weight Status, and Motor Skills in this desired age group. Overall, the article uses good methodology and statistical analysis to support its findings. The study sheds light on the importance of addressing physical activity and its implications on weight and motor skills in our youth. The largest takeaway that this study provided was that Physical Activity level (not weight status) had a relationship to motor skills. Additional study is needed to better understand these topics as children develop.