News Release

August 31, 2004

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Loaded Backpacks

Too Full and Too Heavy – Kids’ Backpacks Can Cause Serious Problems

FARMINGTON, Conn. – Kids, load your backpacks with care. You are not immune to back problems, says UConn Health Center ergonomic expert Nick Warren, Sc.D., assistant professor of medicine in the division of occupational and environmental medicine at the UConn Health Center.

Here are his quick tips:

  • Less is more. The pack should weigh no more than 10 to 15 percent of a child’s weight.
  • Smaller backpacks are better. They force kids to be more efficient and selective about what goes in.
  • Balance contents, distributing weight evenly.
  • Use both straps over the shoulders.
  • The pack should rest snuggly against the mid-back.

“Over time, excess weight can cause premature disk damage and affect the shoulders, neck, hips and even the legs,” said Dr. Warren. “The loads of books, paper, notebooks, and other items kids are carrying today may come back to haunt them as adults, most likely as back or shoulder/neck pain.”

“It’s disheartening to hear about 12-year olds complaining of back problems,” said Dr. Warren. “Parents of young children can and should lay down the law. As for teens, well hopefully they’ll listen.”

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