For the first time, experts have calculated how much a child’s backpack should ideally weigh.
Turns out, it’s based on the youngster’s body weight.
The researchers say schoolchildren should carry a maximum weight of 10 percent of their total body weight.
Their findings are based on a study involving 49 primary school-aged children in Spain.
If your older schoolchildren have heavier loads due to homework, musical instruments, art projects, or after-school activities, you may want to consider trolley bags.
These carriers are common in Spain, where an estimated 40 percent of schoolchildren use them.
The maximum load of a trolley backpack should be about 20 percent of your child’s total weight.
“For example, a girl or a boy whose weight is 110 pounds, the maximum recommended weight for their backpacks should be 11 pounds, and for trolleys, lower than 20 pounds,” said Eva Orantes González, PhD, a research fellow at the University of Granada in Spain and a contributing study author.
Many people can remember carrying their too-heavy backpacks to and from school. It wasn’t good for kids then, and it’s not good for children now.
“The use of heavy backpacks has sometimes been related with back pain or neck and shoulder discomfort, and even with heaviness perception and increased fatigue,” González told Healthline.
According to Dr. Bradley Weinberger, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, carrying an overly heavy backpack can have the following adverse effects on your child’s health:
- Increased risk of developing neck and back pain due to changes in posture and movement patterns
- Muscle soreness from the straps
- Negative effect on balance, potentially increasing the risk of falls or other injuries
Dr. Dina Kulik, FRCPC, PEM, the founder and director of Kidcrew Pediatrics, agrees. She lists “musculoskeletal pain, sore neck and shoulders, and poor posture” as common health risks of carrying an excessively heavy backpack.