Bethany A. Moore, Harshvardhan Singh, Paula Chandler-Laney. University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity affects 19.3% of children and adolescents in the United States and is associated with hypertension, insulin resistance, and persistent obesity into adulthood. Thus, it is important to identify strategies in childhood to prevent obesity or encourage the adoption of lifestyle behaviors that will reduce risk for obesity-related diseases. Physical activity (PA) reduces the risk for obesity in children and adults and can at least partly attenuate the adverse consequences of obesity. The ability to engage in PA depends on having adequate neuromuscular performance (NMP), which is essential for the acquisition of motor control. For example, NMP is necessary for balance, force generation and coordinated movements. Children with obesity have poorer NMP compared to those without obesity. Independent of adiposity, children with poorer NMP engage in reduced PA. It is not clear if children at risk for obesity have poorer NMP prior to the development of obesity, which in turn, could contribute to less engagement in PA compared to those with low risk for obesity. The proposed study aims to compare (a) dynamic balance and (b) lower extremity muscle power among children with normal weight, at high versus low risk for obesity. Risk for obesity is defined by parental weight status. METHODS: Using a cross-sectional design, we aim to enroll 52 children, aged 5-13 years, whose BMI is less than the 85th percentile, stratified into high versus low risk based on whether the parents have obesity. Body composition will be assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Current and usual PA will be assessed via triaxial accelerometry (current) and questionnaire (usual). Dynamic balance will be assessed using (a) the four-square step test and (b) maximum speed walking test. Muscle power will be assessed using a series of countermovement and squat jumps. Descriptive statistics will be calculated to summarize the characteristics of the sample. Unadjusted and adjusted ANCOVA will be calculated to evaluate whether muscle power and dynamic balance differ by group, and if these differences are independent of PA and other potential covariates. Data will be analyzed using SAS Version 9.4 at alpha=0.05. ANTICIPATED RESULTS: We hypothesize that children at high risk for obesity will show (a) poorer balance and (b) poorer joint-specific muscle power than those children at low risk, independent of current and usual PA.

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