Clumsy kids who lack co-ordination aren't just prone to cuts and bruises. They're also at greater risk for becoming obese as adults, British researchers say.

Researchers analyzed data from the ongoing National Child Development Study in Great Britain that began in 1958.

They found that children who at age seven were identified as clumsy by their teachers, and who had poor hand control and co-ordination, were more likely to be obese as adults.

As well, 11-year-olds who were deemed to have poor hand control and co-ordination when evaluated by doctors were more likely to be obese at age 33.

The findings are published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal.

Previous research has found a link between poor cognitive function in childhood and an increased risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

As well, obesity in adults has been linked to the development of dementia. Researchers believe it leads to health problems like hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases that can impair cognitive function.

However, scientists also know that risk factors for some diseases develop very early in life.

For the British study, almost 8,000 subjects were tested at the age of seven on their ability to accurately copy a design, mark squares on a paper within a short time frame and the time it took to find 20 matching items.

Similar tests were performed by a doctor on almost 6,900 11-year-olds.

The researchers could not say for certain how poor cognitive function may influence the development of adult obesity.

"Some early life exposures, such as maternal smoking during pregnancy, or personal characteristics may impair the development of physical control and co-ordination, as well as increasing the risk of obesity in later life," the authors wrote.

"Rather than being explained by a single factor, an accumulation throughout life of many associated cultural, personal and economic exposures is likely to underlie the risks for obesity and some elements of associated neurological function."