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Backs, Bags & Books: Your Child’s Health

The new school year is well into action. It’s a time of joy, new beginnings, and possible new injury risks. Here are some tips to stack the odds in your family’s favor.

Healthy school lunches and healthy exercise together are an opportunity to protect your child’s heart, decrease future diabetes and arthritis risks. Healthy exercise can be as simple as a daily walk, and innovative communities have established safe walking routes to and from school.

Children should travel in groups, and need to be aware of traffic and potential human hazards. Should your child choose more intense forms of exercise such as recreational or organized sports, be sure they do so safely.

Another major risk to your children’s safety is right behind them: their backpacks. Heavy backpacks can cause growing frames to experience temporary backaches, joint pain, even muscle strains and headaches; and some children may begin a lifetime of these problems.

Here’s a simple tip:

Weigh your child, and then weigh his or her backpack. Only 4% of parents do this simple test, yet the children of those “4 percenters” carry the lighter backpacks. If you care about your child’s health and well-being — and you know you do — pull out the scale, and use it.

A child’s daily backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of total body weight, and some sources suggest a maximum of 5-10%. Simply put, your 100 pound child’s backpack should weigh under 10 pounds. For a 150 pound child, 15 pounds is the recommended maximum. For a 75 pound child, 7 1/2 pounds is the most he or she may be able to safely carry on their back.

In addition to stressing young frames and growing structures, heavy backpacks cause acute injuries. In fact, a study in Pediatrics showed that emergency room visits associated with backpacks are most highly correlated with tripping, with the head and face being the most commonly seriously injured body parts.

Why not protect your kids with a simple device that most of us already own–specifically, the bathroom scale? To learn more about