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Kids and School Bags: What Are Healthy Back Options?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 12 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Kids Children Bag School Back Health

Children typically carry a bag to school, to transport all their work, books and essential kit. But the weight of all the gear, coupled with poorly chosen bags, could have a detrimental effect on your child’s health. We take a look at the issue of school bags and what a healthy back option is considered to be.

Research has shown that up to 80% of children carry bags to school that are crammed with far too much stuff or too heavy belongings and they could be harming their health. It’s often not helped by the type of bag they use, as some bags used by kids to take to school are poorly designed and not back friendly at the best of times.

Carrying a heavy load, particularly only on shoulder, is bad news for young spines and could cause back pain for children. Even worse, it’s not only short term back pain that could occur, as a heavy school back could also increase the risk of future back problems later in life.

Are Kids School Bags Really That Heavy?

It’s not surprising for parents to be unaware quite how heavy school bags get, especially with secondary aged children, whose bags you may have no need to actually carry yourself. When the bags are filled with all the school necessities, the weight really does add up.

One study into school bags found that the average bag being carried by young secondary aged children aged 11 and 12 years old weighed 9.3kg and was equivalent to 22% of their body weight.

Many of the heavier bags weighed 11.5kg, or about 28% of their body weight and, in the worst cases, some school bags even weighed as much as 16.3kg, which equates to the equivalent of almost half a child’s body weight.

What Bag Weight is Safe For Children To Carry?

Ideally, experts suggest that the optimum weight for a child’s school bag should be no more than 10% of their weight. Weighing your child’s school bag can help highlight the amount of weight they’re carrying around and whether or not it’s a healthy amount.

Of course, it can get difficult if you want they’re carrying too much, as the entire contents may turn out to be ‘essential!’ There’s no point them leaving all their essential kit and equipment at home, but if they have a locker at school, then perhaps you could encourage them to offload some items into a locker to safe the strain on their back.

If the school doesn’t have locker facilities, then perhaps that’s something you could look into campaigning for?

Are There Any School Bags That Are Healthier for Children’s Backs?

If your child has to carry around lots of ‘stuff’ for school, then thankfully there are better school bag options that can help reduce the risk of back problems.

Backpacks or rucksacks are far better for school, as they can be worn on both shoulders and help distribute the weight a lot better – even if your child thinks they are uncool!

The best type of healthy backpack should have a nice padded back panel, so that it’s comfortable to wear on the back, a good amount of padding on the straps, so that they don’t dig in and so that the weight can be spread evenly over the back. Although cheaper bags may be available, it’s better to pay a bit more for a well made and sturdy school bag, as it should last longer and be much better in the long term for your child.

By getting your child into the habit of wearing a backpack as soon as they start school, then hopefully it will be a habit they continue as they go through their school years.

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