Backpacks Can Become a Burden on School Children’s Health

One of the most anticipated parts of preparing for a new school year can be picking out a new backpack. While a child’s focus might be on design and a parent’s concern might be price, the ultimate goal should be the child’s well-being.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is just one of several groups that have issued warnings recently concerning children’s backpacks. Research that shows they can do more harm than good if not used properly. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, over 50 percent of all students between the ages of nine and 20 suffer from chronic back pain related to carrying their backpacks.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, children should not carry more than 15 to 20 percent of their body weight.  A 50-pound child should only carry five to 10 pounds; whereas a 150 pound teenager should only carry between 15 to 30 pounds. However, studies have shown that kids often go over that weight limit.

Parents and students should follow these steps to implement backpack safety:

Start off well – Make sure that a child has chosen the best backpack for their size and the weight they anticipate having to carry to and from school and in between classes.

Wear it well – The weight of a backpack should be equally distributed on a child’s back. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can cause significant harm to the child’s back and shoulder. Both padded shoulder straps and waist straps should be used to properly balance the pack’s load.

Pack it well – A child should be taught how to properly pack a backpack with heavier items placed to the back and center of the pack. Students should also know not to fill the backpack to capacity.

For more information on backpack safety or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit

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