The relationship between BMI and FMS performance in rural children


Mastery of fundamental movement skills (FMS) is considered a crucial component in securing physical activity participation, and in turn, decreasing the likelihood of obesity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and fundamental movement skill performance among children ages 5 to 7 in a rural school system. Secondly, we intended to investigate gender differences in FMS performance. Participants were 39 kindergarten and first graders (20 boys and 19 girls) in a K-8 public school located in eastern Illinois. BMI was calculated for each participant using the CDC’s website calculator tool (CDC, 2008). FMS performance was assessed using the Furtado-Gallagher Computerized Observational Movement Pattern Assessment System (FG-COMPASS). Logical validity evidence (Furtado, 2004) and reliability of classification decisions (Furtado & Gallagher, 2012) have been reported for the FG-COMPASS. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the relationship between BMI percentile and fundamental movement skills. A weak, but negative, correlation that was not significant was found for the locomotor subscale (r(2) = -.261, p textgreater .05), and the manipulative subscale (r(2) = -.067, p textgreater .05). In addition, a two-way Factorial MANOVA was conducted to determine the effect of BMI levels and gender on performance of FMSs. MANOVA results indicate that gender [Wilks’ Lamda = .637, F(2,32) = 9.125, p = .001, n2 = .363] significantly affected the combined dependent variables. No significant main effect was detected for BMI levels. Univariate ANOVA post hoc tests revealed that performance of manipulative FMSs significantly differs for gender [F (1,33) = 12.067, p = .001, n2 = .268] with boys (M = 12.38, SE = .701) over-performing girls (M = 9.14, SE = .627). A weak and negative association between BMI and FMS performance has been reported among urban children (Logan et al., 2011). This finding has been confirmed herein among slightly older rural children. Further, unlike previous studies done with urban children (Logan et al., 2011; Martins et al, 2011), no significant differences were found when comparing FMS performance and BMI groupings. Gender differences found in the present study are aligned with the findings of previous research (Goodway, Robinson, & Crowe, 2010). These findings have implications for educators and health professionals working with rural children. Programmes need to ensure that boys and girls have equal opportunities to practice and master manipulative fundamental movement skills.

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