The paper for this journal club was related to functional movement, physical activity and weight in children.
What was the aim of the paper?
The researchers were aware that there was a lack of research on the structural and functional limitations of excess weight in children. The aim of their research was to look at the relationship between physical activity, functional movement and weight in children. The authors were from the Department of Biomolecular and Sport Science in Coventry University in the UK.
What did the study involve?
58 British school children (mean age of 10.7 years, over 80% Caucasian) were recruited for the study. The researchers measured body mass and height and calculated BMI. The children were classed as overweight or obese according to the International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) criteria. Physical activity was measured using pedometers which the children used over four days (2 week days and 2 weekend days). Functional movement was assessed using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This included seven tests (deep squat, hurdle step, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, truck stability push-up and rotary stability) and the children were given three trials of each test. The researchers took the highest score from the three trials for each test and used this to create a FMS score.
What were the main results?
The researchers found that FMS was negatively associated with BMI and positively related to physical activity. Normal weight children score significantly better for FMS score compared to overweight or obese children. BMI and physical activity were also significant predictors of FMS score, with BMI being a stronger predictor.
What can we take from it?
This was an enjoyable study to read with a simple research design. It would have been good to see a larger sample size with children of different ages and from different parts of the UK, not just Coventry. I would have also liked to have seen a power calculation for the sample size needed for this study.
The research design was explained clearly, but I feel like specific details about times of measurement of BMI, FMS and physical activity levels would have been helpful to give a better insight into the research. As Jon mentions, it’s well-known that BMI may not be completely accurate for body fat measurement, but the author Mike said that they used it because it’s used as part of the national child measurement programme. Mike also believes that he probably wouldn’t have reached a different conclusion if they had measured adiposity directly.
I’ve picked out the following comments about the research.
- Although the sample size was small, it gives a positive indication that this topic requires further research, with larger sample sizes.
- It may also be relevant to extend the objectives of this study to a wider age range, such as 8 to 16 year olds, to compare any differences between FMS score and physical activity across an age range.
- My concern is how can a test (FMS) be utilized for two different populations and come to useful and reliable conclusions?
- Can the level of obesity be more categorically reported than BMI?
- I think it would be interesting to see whether an intervention of exercise, diet, or exercise + diet significantly improves FMS score, to see what extent functional skill or functional limitation effect movement.
- we should consider the implications of reduced functional movement, altered gait, and lower body loads on the design of exercise prescriptions in overweight children.
Overall, this was a simple study that adds to the little research that has been carried out on physical activity, functional movement and obesity in children. Mike now wants to see what impact a physical activity intervention might have on children’s obesity and functional movement.
You can see more comments, questions and answers from fellow Sport Scientists and the author Mike here.