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Poor Coordination in Childhood Tied to Adult Obesity

Clumsiness at age 7, below-par motor skills at 11 linked to weight gain later, study says

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A lack of physical control and coordination in childhood may be tied to an increased risk of obesity in later life, a new study says.

The research, published online at Wednesday, adds to previous studies that found poorer cognitive function in childhood may be linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes in adults.

The findings, based on 11,041 individuals in the ongoing National Child Development Study in Great Britain, showed that children who showed poor hand control, poor coordination, and clumsiness at age 7 in testing were more likely to be obese adults. Those with poorer functioning motor skills at age 11 also tended to be obese at age 33.

Adjusting for factors that may influence the results, such as childhood body mass and family social class, did not change the results. However, the study did not delve into specific biological processes that may explain poorer physical control and coordination in childhood with adult obesity.

"Some early life exposures (such as maternal smoking during pregnancy) or personal characteristics may impair the development of physical control and coordination, as well as increasing the risk of obesity in later life," the authors, from Imperial College London and Orebro University Hospital & Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, wrote.

"Rather than being explained by a single factor, an accumulation throughout life of many associated cultural, personal, and economic exposures is likely to underlie the risks for obesity and some elements of associated neurological function," they concluded.

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-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: BMJ Online, news release, Aug. 12, 2008

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