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School Bags Shouldn’t Weigh More Than 10% Of The Child’s Weight, Says Study

School Bags Shouldn’t Weigh More Than 10% Of The Child’s Weight, Says Study

If it’s a trolley backpack, it should not weigh greater than 20% of the student’s body weight.

Adeline Leong

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Carrying a heavy school bag is a rite of passage for any student. However, the weight of the schoolbags on the shoulders and backs of these young children may be detrimental to their posture in the long run.

Here are some pictures to give a visual of how much book weight children in Malaysia are carrying to school for five days per week before online classes took place.

A parent shared on Facebook that their child carries a bag weighing nearly 8kg every day.

How heavy should the schoolbags be?

With so many textbooks to lug to school daily, parents must be wondering how heavy their children’s bags should be.

Fortunately, a 2019 study done by researchers from the University of Granada and UK-based Liverpool John Moores University has finally revealed the maximum weight a child should carry using a school backpack and a backpack trolley.

According to the study, a child should carry a backpack no more than 10% of their body weight. If it’s a backpack trolley, the bag should not weigh greater than 20% of the child’s body weight.

To put it into perspective:

If the child’s weight is 30kg, the backpack should weigh a maximum of 3kg. If the child is using a backpack trolley, the bag should weigh a maximum of 6kg.

The study also found that pulling the backpack trolley resembles more closely to walking naturally without carrying any load.

On the other hand, carrying the load on the shoulders and back puts more stress on the proximal extremities (hip and trunk /torso) and the least on distal extremities (knee and ankle).

How to spot an ergonomic backpack?

An ergonomic backpack has been marketed as the best bag parents could buy for their children. While it’s good in the long run, these bags usually come with a hefty price tag.

If it’s hard to find an affordable ergonomic bag, here are some bag features to look out for to help distribute the bag weight evenly.

According to Jennifer Liaw, a senior principal physiotherapist at the Department of Physiotherapy in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), the features to look out for are:

  1. A wide and padded double strap backpack helps to distribute the bag weight evenly on the body as compared to a sling bag.
  2. The backpack should fit the child’s torso length. To check where the bag should rest, place your hands on the hips with the thumbs on the back. The place where the thumbs are is where the bag should be resting.
  3. Having a sternum and waist belt can help lessen the load and provide stability. A sternum belt will help hold the shoulder straps in place while a waist belt helps to distribute the load across the hips and lessens the stress on the neck and shoulders.
  4. Compression straps can also help to keep the load snug and close against the back.

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