Heavy school bags are 'deforming' children as growing numbers suffer irreversible back problems
By John Stevens for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:31 GMT, 12 March 2012 | Updated: 22:31 GMT, 12 March 2012
Growing numbers of children are developing irreversible back deformities because of the weight of the bags they carry to school, experts warned yesterday.
Half of all children suffer back pain by the age of 14 and doctors are reporting a rise in cases of spinal abnormalities in pupils, including disfiguring curvatures known as scoliosis.
Overloaded school bags that are up to double the size of those carried ten years ago are contributing to the surge, it is feared.
Heavy school bags can weigh double those from 10 years ago, leading to a wave of child back pain problems
Pupils routinely carry bags filled with heavy books, laptops, sports kit and packed lunches, which may weigh as much as two stone.
Health experts say children risk long-term and ultimately permanent damage if they regularly carry more than 15 per cent of their body weight over their shoulders.
The charity BackCare claims many youngsters are carrying as much as 20 per cent of their weight to and from school, and some up to 25 per cent.
Back pain specialists are calling for a review of the weights youngsters are being asked to carry on their backs each day.
Sean McDougall, of BackCare, said the problem is a ‘healthcare timebomb’ that is leading to years of misery in later life.
‘If children are getting back pain so young then there is the potential they will have it for the next 70 to 80 years, which leads to an enormous physical and emotional cost,’ he said.
‘Children’s skeletons are still growing so carrying heavy bags can cause lasting damage.
‘Many are carrying their bags on one shoulder or are increasingly carrying them on the crook of their elbow, so are placing a great strain on the spine.
‘A lot of the bags being used are bulky sports bags, which are twice the size of backpacks used a decade ago.
‘If children have bigger bags then they tend to fill them. Add on sports equipment, musical instruments and heavy wet weather clothes and children are totally overloaded.
‘We are seeing children carrying up to a quarter of their body weight around, which would never be allowed if you were an adult.’
He added: ‘Back problems are becoming an increasing issue among schoolchildren and schools no longer have adequate desk space for pupils to store heavy books. We need to have an urgent overview of this issue.’
Parents are being urged to keep an eye on children’s backpacks so that they do not cause problems for their health when they are older.
Mr McDougall said: ‘Parents should insist that their children pack their bags only with what they need for the next day and ensure that they are worn on both shoulders.’
Some school bags can weigh an incredible two stone
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Kids are almost left with no options than to carry heavy school bags to school these days for a number of reasons. It has been observed by pediatricians that such a thing automatically leads to strained backs and necks in growing children. It is not any more uncommon to find students especially in middle schools carrying huge bags weighing up to 30 pounds on their backs on a regular basis! Just imagine. Each year millions of students carry heavy bags with their shoulders drawn down with the weight. Despite all the progress in technology and science, the modern system of education could not come out with any other option where a students does not have to carry such heavy bags. It is not surprising then that children complain of back pain, neck sprains etc.
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to understand why children are complaining about their health, especially because they are at a growing phase. This has become a pressing issue as most children find it difficult to carry such heavy bags and are often not strong enough. Parents should work out alternative solutions if the child is complaining of pain. Therefore, buying the right kind o bag is paramount.
Factors to keep in mind when buying a school bag:
1. Parents should opt for a good quality bag that would give their child the required comfort, so that he can carry all his books properly without feeling pain. A good quality backpack is structured so that all the books and other stationary items can be properly arranged within the sections and the load equally distributed along the strong muscles of the back and shoulders. It is of utmost importance to adjust the shoulder straps in a manner that it doesn’t hurt the body. Improper adjustments could lead to severe back pain. Also, if a child puts his bag on any kind of surface. this might spoil the bag and lead to a lot of wear and tear. To protect the bag from such wear and tear, the material is is constructed of is very important. Generally nylon and canvas are the best materials. If you search for online school bags, you will find that very few promise to give you the right kind of quality material.
2. Parents should consider children’s views in the decision while choosing the right kind of bag: they should also take into consideration the price, going for a cheaper one; often the durability factor gets compromised. Hence the bag should be such that its lasts for at least one whole academic year. A variety of bags are available online these days, for example, genius school bags, that meet up to the expectation.
3. An appropriate school bag should be made of a firm material: the right kind of material is very important for the longevity of the bag to protect them from sagging. Also extra load can be properly adjusted and strain lessened to a large extent if the material is that of the highest quality. A bag that can be adjusted also helps the child to wear it in a more comfortable way having the right kind of fit. There are many schools that make backpacks a part of the school uniform, so there may be regulations regarding its color, designs, size, etc. In such situations, it is better to speak with the school administration before you purchase any bag. Also, ordering bags online is not a good idea as that would not have the correct specifications. Placing an advance order is the right way to go about it.
4. Design and color: children often have their own ideas about their school bags. Sometimes, more than anything else, what their peers have to say matters the most. Such situations often occur when bags are a symbol of style for friends. Some children love cartoon characters like Ben10, Batman, Spiderman, Barbie, Aladdin, etc. on their bags. So, while buying bags, parents should take this into consideration.
5. Bags should have straps: when choosing backpack accessories, it is important to make sure that the bag has strong straps and is padded well so that it can be easily carried. The child should feel comfortable and the weight inside the bag should be evenly distributed.
One of the reasons why students need to carry such huge bags today is that more and more new schools are being built without proper lockers. The lack of enough lockers leads to students carrying the whole days worth of school text books to class.
Effect of heavy bags on student’s health is definitely worrying. For a parent it is very important to know the consequences of their child carrying such a heavy bag and look for a possible solution.
About the Author: Rohit Pandey. works for Genius Leathercraft Pvt. Ltd. as a professional Digital Media Adviser. You can find more of his articles on the Genius Blog.
Posted inGuest Writers, Kids Health & WellnessTaggedHeavy school bags are bad for the health of your childpermalink