Impaired physical function associated with childhood obesity: How should we intervene?

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Grant Number

Physiotherapy Research Foundation (grant no. S08-002)

Publication Details

Citation only

Tsiros M.D., Buckley, J.D., Olds, T., Howe, P.R.C., Hills, A.P., Walkley, J., Wood, R., Kagawa, M., Shield, A., Taylor, L., Shultz, S.P., Grimshaw, P.N., Grigg, K., & Coates, A.M. (2016). Impaired physical function associated with childhood obesity: How should we intervene? Childhood Obesity, 12(2), 126-134 .

Access the journal

© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.





This study examined relationships between adiposity, physical functioning, and physical activity.


Obese (N = 107) and healthy-weight (N = 132) children aged 10-13 years underwent assessments of percent body fat (%BF, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry); knee extensor strength (KE, isokinetic dynamometry); cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF, peak oxygen uptake by cycle ergometry); physical health-related quality of life (HRQOL); and worst pain intensity and walking capacity [six-minute walk (6MWT)]. Structural equation modelling was used to assess relationships between variables.


Moderate relationships were observed between %BF and (1) 6MWT, (2) KE strength corrected for mass, and (3) CRF relative to mass (r -0.36 to -0.69, p ≤ 0.007). Weak relationships were found between %BF and physical HRQOL (r -0.27, p = 0.008); CRF relative to mass and physical HRQOL (r -0.24, p = 0.003); physical activity and 6MWT (r 0.17, p = 0.004). Squared multiple correlations showed that 29.6% variance in physical HRQOL was explained by %BF, pain, and CRF relative to mass; while 28.0% variance in 6MWT was explained by %BF and physical activity.


It appears that children with a higher body fat percentage have poorer KE strength, CRF, and overall physical functioning. Reducing percent fat appears to be the best target to improve functioning. However, a combined approach to intervention, targeting reductions in body fat percentage, reductions in pain, and improvements in physical activity and CRF may assist physical functioning.

This document is currently not available here.



This document has been peer reviewed.