Are Movement Behaviors and Fundamental Motor Skills Associated With Fitness and Fatness in Early Childhood? Findings From the 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: Using 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) National Youth Fitness Survey data, the authors conducted a cross-sectional secondary analysis to examine the associations of movement behaviors (ie, physical activity [PA] and screen-based sedentary behaviors) and fundamental motor skills (FMS) with fitness (ie, muscular fitness) and fatness (ie, body mass index and waist circumference) in 3- to 5-year-old children. The effect of ethnicity (Hispanic vs non-Hispanic) on these associations was also examined. Methods: A total of 352 children (173 girls; mean age = 4.02 y) from the 2012 NHANES data set were included. Parents reported their child’s PA and screen-based sedentary behaviors. FMS (ie, locomotor and object control) were assessed with the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd edition. Other variables used were body mass index, waist circumference, and plank. Results: Hispanic children demonstrated lower levels of PA than non-Hispanic children (P < .05). Children’s FMS emerged as significant predictors of muscular fitness and waist circumference, but not for body mass index in the Hispanic group. In the non-Hispanic group, FMS (ie, object control skills) and PA accounted for significant variances of muscular fitness and waist circumference, respectively. Conclusion: The associations of movement behaviors and FMS with fitness and fatness are different between Hispanic and non-Hispanic young children. Changes in policy or early childhood curriculum may be tailed to promote FMS for an impact on fitness and fatness in both Hispanic and non-Hispanic children.

X. Zhang, Gu, Caçola, and Wang are with the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX. T. Zhang is with the University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA.

Gu (xiangli.gu@uta.edu) is corresponding author.
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