MoMo study: Tracking physical fitness and activity of German youth for over 20 years

For over 20 years, the "Motorik-Modul-Studie" (MoMo) has been providing representative data on how fit and active children and young people in Germany are. With the current tests in Karlsruhe (28 and 29 April 2024), the fourth survey wave (MoMo 2.0), which was launched in September 2023, is halfway complete. Around 4,800 children and young people are to be tested by the end of the year. Initial results indicate that they are doing more sport again after the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, but are less physically active in everyday life. Losses in motor performance are expected. The study is a joint project of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Karlsruhe University of Education (PHKA), the University of Konstanz and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Since 2003, the MoMo study has been investigating the course and development of physical fitness, activity behavior and health of children and adolescents in Germany. The nationally representative MoMo data and analyses help to identify trends, determine the influence of historical events and environmental factors, and reveal connections between socio-economic and biomedical conditions.

Reliable and objective data for over 20 years

The MoMo study is essential because it sheds light on the central role of movement and motor skills for a healthy upbringing. When we launched it in 2003, the topic was only present at a local level."

Professor Alexander Woll, MoMo 2.0 network leader and head of the Institute of Sport and Sports Science at KIT

"For more than 20 years, the examination of motor performance using standardized on-site sports motor tests has provided reliable and objective data on the motor performance of children and young people in Germany," says Professor Annette Worth, deputy network leader of the MoMo 2.0 study, Vice-Rector for Research and Professor of Sports Education and Didactics at the PHKA.

"Coronavirus kink" expected

The key finding of the first three waves of the survey from 2003 to 2020 was that the motor skills of children and young people in Germany are stagnating at a low level and that the majority of four to seventeen-year-olds are not getting enough exercise. For the current survey, the researchers expect a " coronavirus kink" that has generally already been diagnosed by comparable studies - such as the "Fitness Barometer 2023", which was developed in collaboration with KIT - with slower and less persistent children. The researchers suspect that this could be linked to changes in physical activity and leisure behavior, such as increased media consumption.

As part of the fourth MoMo 2.0 survey wave, around 4 800 children and young people aged between 4 and 17 are to be tested in 185 cities and municipalities by the end of 2024. The tests at the Karlsruhe University of Education on 28 and 29 April 2024 will mark the successful completion of the first half of the current survey wave. The results, expected at the end of 2025, will show for the first time how fit and active children and young people are who have experienced the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The standardized tests for endurance, strength, speed, coordination and mobility are organized and supervised by around 60 specially trained students from the PHKA and KIT. Data on weight, body composition, waist circumference, blood pressure, nutrition and mental health are also included in the survey.

KIT coordinates MoMo research-network

The Institute for Sport and Sports Science (IfSS) at KIT is responsible for the MoMo study, with Professor Alexander Woll and Dr Claudia Niessner as the lead researchers. Dr Alexander Burchartz from the IfSS is in charge of the overall project. They are supported by seven doctoral and post-doctoral students as well as student assistants.

The coordination of the work of the four MoMo partners includes the coordination of research objectives, the planning of the study design, the development of methods such as activity measurement using accelerometers, the management of test subjects, data management and the preparation and dissemination of results at congresses and conferences, for the media and in policy advice. The integration of the MoMo study into the KIT Health Technologies Centre makes it possible to integrate innovative health technologies and methods directly into research and thus seamlessly link scientific findings and practical applications in health research.

About the MoMo study

The MoMo study (2003 to 2022) and the MoMo 2.0 study (since 2022) emerged from the motor skills module (MoMo), a sub-study of the nationally representative "Child and Adolescent Health Survey" conducted by the Robert Koch Institute. From 2003 to 2022, a representative data set on the motor performance and physical and sporting activity and health of children and adolescents was created for the first time. Psychological, medical and social aspects are also included.

Since October 2022, the MoMo study has been conducted at additional locations under the name MoMo 2.0. The KIT is primarily investigating physical and sporting activity as well as physical health and health behavior. The PHKA focuses on recording and analyzing motor performance, anthropometry and physical health. The University of Konstanz analyses social inequality, migration and education. The Humboldt University of Berlin is responsible for the statistical analysis of the collected data. MoMo 2.0 is funded by the Federal Ministry of Health. (rth, jha)

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