Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 10, pp 2703–2711 | Cite as

“It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”: does obesity affect perceptual motor control ability of adults on the speed and accuracy of a discrete aiming task?

  • David GaulEmail author
  • Laure Fernandez
  • Johann Issartel
Research Article


The ability to control speed and accuracy of goal directed aiming tasks underpins many activities of daily living. Recent evidence has begun to suggest that obesity can affect the control of movement. This study evaluated perceptual motor control of 183 normal weight, overweight, and obese participants using a discrete Fitts’ task on a digital tablet. In addition, we manipulated tablet orientation to determine whether tablet orientation influences task difficulty with the view to increase the task’s constraints. Our study found that the traditional relationship between target distance and target width hold true for each of the three weight groups in both tablet orientations. Interestingly, no significant differences were found for movement time between the groups, while movement kinematics differed between weight groups. Obese participants demonstrated significantly higher peak acceleration values in the horizontal tablet orientation when compared to their normal weight and overweight counterparts. Further to this, obese participants made significantly more errors than normal weight and overweight groups. These findings suggest that obese individuals have altered control strategies compared to their normal weight peers.


Perceptual-Motor Fitts' Task Speed Accuracy Obesity 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of Cedric Goulon for his work on development of software used to conduct the experiment.


Ethical approval was granted by Dublin City University’s research ethics committee (DCUREC/2011/038). This research was funded by the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme 2014 (GOIPG/2014/1516).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessInstitute of Technology BlanchardstownDublin 15Ireland
  2. 2.Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, ISMMarseilleFrance
  3. 3.School of Health and Human PerformanceDublin City UniversityDublin 9Ireland

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