The targeted continent and/or country driven promotion of physical activity and health from an early age onwards requires more insight into cross-cultural differences in motor competence. Using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition Short Form (BOT-2 SF), this study assessed and compared both fine and gross motor skill performances of 5- and 6-year-old children from Belgium (n = 325) and Greece (n = 245). Linear mixed effect models and a χ2 test analyzed between-country differences in BOT-2 SF scores and the distribution across descriptive performance categories. Overall, Belgian and Greek participants displayed quite similar levels of motor competence, with fewer children performing (well-)below average than could be expected. On test item level, however, several significant differences emerged. Large effect sizes were found for knee push-ups (Hedges’ g = 1.46) and copying a square (Hedges’ g = 2.59), which demonstrated a better outcome for Belgian and Greek preschoolers, respectively. These findings might be attributed to different (physical) education practices in both European countries. The present study also highlights the importance of using an assessment tool covering the entire range of motor skills as well as a focusing primarily on raw performance scores, containing and explaining more variance, for international comparative research purposes.
Eva D’Hondt, Fotini Venetsanou, Antonis Kambas and Matthieu Lenoir
Eva D’Hondt, Benedicte Deforche, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij and Matthieu Lenoir
The purpose of this study was to investigate gross and fine motor skill in overweight and obese children compared with normal-weight peers. According to international cut-off points for Body Mass Index (BMI) from Cole et al. (2000), all 117 participants (5–10 year) were classified as being normal-weight, overweight, or obese. Level of motor skill was assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC). Scores for balance (p < .01) and ball skills (p < .05) were significantly better in normal-weight and overweight children as compared with their obese counterparts. A similar trend was found for manual dexterity (p < .10). This study demonstrates that general motor skill level is lower in obese children than in normal-weight and overweight peers.
Philip W. Fink, Sarah P. Shultz, Eva D’Hondt, Matthieu Lenoir and Andrew P. Hills
Multifractal analyses have been used in recent years as a way of studying balance, with the goal of understanding the patterns of movement of the center of pressure at different spatial scales. A multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis was used to compare obese and nonobese children to investigate the cause of previously demonstrated deficiencies in balance for obese children. Twenty-two children (11 obese and 11 nonobese), aged 8–15 years, performed 30-s trials of bilateral static balance on a plantar pressure distribution measuring device. Both the obese and nonobese groups demonstrated greater persistence for small fluctuations, but the effect was greater in the obese group. This was particularly evident with the eyes closed, where significant differences between the obese and nonobese were observed for small fluctuations. These results demonstrate that balance deficiencies in obese children may be the result of decreased proprioceptive abilities in obese children.
Job Fransen, Dieter Deprez, Johan Pion, Isabel B Tallir, Eva D’Hondt, Roel Vaeyens, Matthieu Lenoir and Renaat M. Philippaerts
The goal of this study was to investigate differences in physical fitness and sports participation over 2 years in children with relatively high, average, and low motor competence. Physical fitness and gross motor coordination of 501 children between 6–10 years were measured at baseline and baseline+2 years. The sample compromised 2 age cohorts: 6.00–7.99 and 8.00–9.99 years. An age and sex-specific motor quotient at baseline testing was used to subdivide these children into low (MQ < P33), average (P33 ≤ MQ < P66) and high (MQ ≥ P66) motor competence groups. Measures of sports participation were obtained through a physical activity questionnaire in 278 of the same children. Repeated Measures MANCOVA and two separate ANOVAs were used to analyze differences in changes in physical fitness and measures of sports participation respectively. Children with high motor competence scored better on physical fitness tests and participated in sports more often. Since physical fitness levels between groups changed similarly over time, low motor competent children might be at risk for being less physically fit throughout their life. Furthermore, since low motor competent children participate less in sports, they have fewer opportunities of developing motor abilities and physical fitness and this may further prevent them from catching up with their peers with an average or high motor competence.