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The Biomechanics of Obese Children: Should We Be More Concerned with Excess or Non-contributory Mass?

Reports of research work funded by grants prior to 2013

Massey University

The Biomechanics of Obese Children:  Should We Be More Concerned with Excess or Non-contributory Mass?

SP Shultz
School of Sport & Exercise

Project Synopsis

The increasing burden of obesity has created an immediate need to develop strategic prevention and management approaches.  Although lifestyle modification is considered the cornerstone to managing obesity, there are significant gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the optimal modalities of exercise to use with a paediatric population;  there is even less focus on the musculoskeletal consequences that can potentially decrease motivation to exercise.  The proposed project aimed to determine the biomechanical and physiological consequences of excess mass and body composition in overweight children, in order to better understand the locomotive challenges that could potentially decrease motivation to exercise.

Data Collection

Thirty-eight children participated (23 non-obese; 15 obese) in the testing sessions held between November 2012 and February 2013.  Body composition was collected using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Energy expenditure and joint biomechanics (kinematic and kinetic) were analysed during a 5 minute walking trial on a treadmill. Three walking speeds were used during the trials; a self-selected speed was calculated through over ground walking and adjusted to the participant’s comfort level while walking on the treadmill.  Fast walking speed was .3 m/s faster than the self-selected speed.  Slow walk speed was .2 m/s slower than the self-selected speed.

Research Outcomes

An honours student assisted in data collection as part of her research project.  The student has recently finished data analysis of the joint biomechanics using the Visual3D software (the sole budgetary item for this grant).  Several manuscripts, including a publication by the honours student, should be submitted before December 2013.  The data collected during this study will be used in collaboration with the University of Auckland and Colorado State University (USA), to further musculoskeletal modelling of obese children.  By better understanding muscular imbalance through modelling, exercise interventions can be more efficiently designed to help children move easier.  Larger grant applications have been submitted to address this specific issue (Model-based exercise intervention to improve locomotor functions for obese children).

The Biomechanics of Obese Children: Should We Be More Concerned with Excess or Non-contributory Mass?

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