Previous research has suggested that perceptual-motor difficulties may account for obese children's lower motor competence; however, specific evidence is currently lacking. Therefore, this study examined the effect of altered visual conditions on spatiotemporal and kinematic gait parameters in obese versus normal-weight children. Thirty-two obese and normal-weight children (11.2 ± 1.5 years) walked barefoot on an instrumented walkway at constant self-selected speed during LIGHT and DARK conditions. Three-dimensional motion analysis was performed to calculate spatiotemporal parameters, as well as sagittal trunk segment and lower extremity joint angles at heel-strike and toe-off. Self-selected speed did not significantly differ between groups. In the DARK condition, all participants walked at a significantly slower speed, decreased stride length, and increased stride width. Without normal vision, obese children had a more pronounced increase in relative double support time compared to the normal-weight group, resulting in a significantly greater percentage of the gait cycle spent in stance. Walking in the DARK, both groups showed greater forward tilt of the trunk and restricted hip movement. All participants had increased knee flexion at heel-strike, as well as decreased knee extension and ankle plantarflexion at toe-off in the DARK condition. The removal of normal vision affected obese children's temporal gait pattern to a larger extent than that of normal-weight peers. Results suggest an increased dependency on vision in obese children to control locomotion. Next to the mechanical problem of moving excess mass, a different coupling between perception and action appears to be governing obese children's motor coordination and control
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