Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)


Department of Biological Sciences


The proportion of overweight or obese children is steadily increasing. Despite this fact, virtually no research has been conducted to examine whether the functional capacity of these children is adversely affected by excess weight. The purpose of the present study was, therefore, to assess selected physical characteristics and functional capacities of prepubescent children to determine possible functional limitations experienced by obese children. Four hundred and thirty one (boys = 212, girls = 219) Grade 3 students (mean age = 8.5 + 0.5 years) from 18 randomly selected primary schools in the Wollongong District participated as subjects for this study. Subjects were required to progress through a circuit of stations designed to assess selected physical characteristics and functional capacities. Physical measures included height, body mass, lower limb alignment, and footprint structure. Functional tasks included a sit and reach test, upper limb static strength, a basketball throw, sit-to-stand transfers, a vertical jump and a standing long jump. Body mass index (BMI) scores for all subjects were calculated and correlated to the performance scores on each of the functional tasks to establish the relationship between obesity and functional capacity. Data for 43 Obese subjects (BMI > 95^^ percentile for age and gender) and 43 Non-obese subjects (BMI at the 50^ percentile for age and gender) were also compared to identify any significant differences (p < 0.05) between the obese and nonobese children with respect to the physical characteristics or functional capacity data.