Heavy Schoolbags/ Backpacks

Dr. Parang Mehta, MD.

All over the world, parents, doctors, and educationists are worrying about the weight that children have to carry, and the effect it has on their backs, shoulders, and general health.  Children leave home in the morning carrying, books, notebooks, stationery, water, lunch, gym shoes, sports equipment, sometimes a change of clothes -- whew!

Parents often don't realise the magnitude of the problem.  Water alone weighs a kilogram a liter.  Books, raquets, lunchboxes, etc all add add to the backpack weight.  Children often carry huge burdens, and it is no wonder that so many of them have aching backs and shoulders.

Problems Caused By Heavy Bags

Lifting heavy burdens for a long time or distance isn't good for anyone, least of all children.  A recent study found that half of the schoolchildren studied had pain in the back or shoulders.  The researchers also found that children in lower grades carried heavier bags.

Carrying a heavy bag on the back causes forward leaning and bad posture, which can lead to improper weight bearing on the spine, and pains and aches in the back and shoulders.  Carrying a backpack weighing 15% of body weight makes a child or adolescent unable to maintain proper standing posture.  Children could get into bad habits like poor posture and slouching.

Forward bending at the back (also called kyphotic posture) makes the work of breathing harder.  Children carrying bags weighing more than 10% of their body weight have been found to have poorer lung function.

Children who use one strap bags (which put weight on one shoulder only) have particular problems.  These bags cause sideways deviation of the spine (scoliosis) because of the asymmetric weight distribution, and this can cause long lasting back aches and damage.

Strategies to Spare the Back

Last Revision: February 14, 2016

Schoolbag Precautions

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Contact Information

Dr. Parang Mehta,
Mehta Childcare,
Opposite Putli, Sagrampura,
Surat, India.    Tel: +91 9429486624.
Email: