Posted by Deborah Pujoue on April 20, 2012
While this may seem like a strange topic to read about, I have come to see the value in getting the word out. Not too long ago, my teenage daughter started developing hip and back pains that her doctor said were much like a sports injury. That’s odd considering she has never been athletic or even interested in watching sports with me on the television. (I am a HUGE Detroit sports fan.) At the time, her doctor asked if she was prone to lifting heavy objects, which we obviously denied. It never occurred to me that her backpack may have been the culprit.
According to a new study, many teens are carrying around backpacks which exceed 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. That extra weight can cause them to suffer from back pain. This is alarming.
For the study, researchers collected data from more than 1,400 students between the ages of 12 to 17, who went to 11 schools in a province in northwestern Spain. For the study, researchers weighed the kids with their backpacks in hand and then weighed the kids without them. Then the researchers took data about the kids’ “height, exercise levels, underlying health problems and back health.”
What they found was the “most of the kids backpacks were almost 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds). Nearly 62 percent of the students carried backpacks that exceeded 10 percent of their body weight, and 18 percent carried backpacks that exceeded 15 percent of their body weight.”
With one of the common problems experienced by these kids being scoliosis, I am relieved that my daughter escaped high school in tact. I know that when I checked the weight of her backpack, I could barely lift it but she lugged this thing to and from school and in between classes. When I asked her why she carried all of her textbooks etc. every day instead of storing stuff in her locker, she said, “My classes are too far away from my locker. I would be late for class if I stopped.” When you combine that with the fact that she has homework in all of her classes every day without fail, carrying that much weight to and from school is necessary. It occurred to me then that it was time for her to take advantage of wheeled luggage cases that she could drag instead.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, the study appears online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.