Despite considerable efforts the prevalence of overweight and obesity in youth remains high. Poor motor skills have been associated with increased body weight but there is still limited information on the longitudinal association of these health parameters.
This study examined the prospective association between motor skills and body weight in 10- to 14-year-old youth.
Body weight, height and motor skills, assessed via the German motor test 16-18 (Deutscher Motorik Test, DMT6-18), were measured in 213 middle school students (57% male) every year over a 4‑year period. Club sports participation and migration status were assessed via a questionnaire.
Besides an inverse cross-sectional association between body weight and motor skills, excess body weight was associated with impaired development of motor skills (p < 0.05). Furthermore, weight loss was associated with enhanced motor development and allowed previously overweight students to catch up with their normal weight peers. High motor skills at baseline also reduced the odds of becoming overweight/obese during the observation period. These results were independent of club sports participation.
There is a bidirectional, synergistic association between body weight and motor skills. Facilitating the development of motor skills in children and adolescents may therefore be a viable intervention strategy targeting weight management and physical activity in youth.