The Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Gross Motor Development in Children Aged 3 to 5 Years

Nervik, Deborah PT, MHS, DPT, DHS, PCS; Martin, Kathy PT, DHS; Rundquist, Peter PT, PhD; Cleland, Joshua PT, PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318218d356
Research Article
Abstract

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between obesity and gross motor development in children who are developing typically and determine whether body mass index (BMI) predicts difficulty in gross motor skills.

Methods: BMIs were calculated and gross motor skills examined in 50 children who were healthy aged 3 to 5 years using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, 2nd edition (PDMS-2). Pearson chi-square statistic and stepwise linear hierarchical regression were used for analysis.

Results: A total of 24% of the children were overweight/obese, whereas 76% were found not to be overweight/obese. Fifty-eight percent of the overweight/obese group scored below average on the PDMS-2 compared to 15% of the nonoverweight group. Association between BMI and gross motor quotients was identified with significance of less than 0.002. Regression results were nonsignificant with all 50 subjects, yet showed significance (P = 0.018) when an outlier was excluded.

Conclusions: Children aged 3 to 5 years with high BMIs may have difficulty with their gross motor skills. Further research is needed.

In Brief

The authors document the relationship between BMI and motor development in young children using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales. They advocate for the role of physical therapists in preventing obesity in children.This study was completed by Deborah Nervik as a requirement for the Doctor of Health Science (DHS) degree from the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis.

Author Information

Franklin Pierce University, Concord, New Hampshire (Drs Nervik and Cleland); and Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana (Drs Martin and Rundquist).

Correspondence: Deborah Nervik, PT, MHS, DPT, DHS, PCS, Physical Therapy Program, Franklin Pierce University, 5 Chenell Drive, Concord, NH 03301 (nervikd@franklinpierce.edu).

Grant Support: Research funding was provided to Deborah Nervik by the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.

This study was completed by Deborah Nervik as a requirement for the Doctor of Health Science (DHS) degree from the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.