Findings from a study presented recently at the European Congress of Endocrinology suggest that lack of physical activity may not be a cause of obesity, but rather a result of poor motor skills associated with the condition.

Per a news release from the European Society of Endocrinology, these findings could help change perceptions about inactivity among obese people, as well as help improve their quality of life.

Researchers at the Dublin City University in the School of Health and Human Performance, led by Johann Issartel, PhD, tested motor skills among 44 obese participants and 44 matched controls by looking at their ability to synchronize the swinging of a wrist pendulum with an oscillating ball displayed on a screen, the release explains. A similar experiment was performed on the obese and control group using an audio signal moving from the left to the right ear.

Researchers found that obese participants synchronized with the visual and audio signals far less accurately than the non-obese control participants.

Issartel, in the release, likens it to a dance performance: “One can imagine that the obese person is like somebody dancing just off the beat of the music.”

Per the release, the results indicate that the lack of physical activity may not be a result of obesity but a consequence of perceptual-motor difficulties. “Often, people consider obese people to be inactive by choice and clumsy when they are active,” Issartel says. This study, Issartel continues, could be an important step toward changing the public’s perception of obese people.

The next phase of the research, Issartel explains in the release, is to identify the cause of the motor skills difficulty. “We believe that the origin of the perceptual problem may be linked to brain inflammation. When we can pinpoint the root cause, we should be in a position to develop behavioral strategies to improve motor skills in obese patients rather than using medical interventions.

“This will break the cycle of obesity and inactivity,” Issartel continues, “and mean that obese patients are more likely to be comfortable engaging in physical activity.”

[Source(s): European Society of Endocrinology, Science Daily]