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How heavy is your child's backpack?

Researchers say your child’s weight and the type of bag they use should determine the answer

Photo (c) Sasiistock - Getty Images
Though school is out for the summer, a recent study could have parents reconsidering what their kids are putting in their backpacks this coming fall. 

According to researchers, children’s weight should be taken into consideration when packing their bags for school. The team says the type of bag -- whether it’s a traditional bag with shoulder straps or a bag that’s wheeled -- should also be taken into account.

Don’t overpack it

The researchers studied roughly 50 students in elementary school, analyzing their body movements when walking free of a bag, when carrying a backpack on their shoulders, and when pulling a bag on wheels. 

The study was designed to see how the different weight-bearing objects affected children’s posture and overall mobility, and if their movement was compromised in any way when carrying or wheeling a backpack. 

During the trials, the researchers had the participants test out bags that were 10 percent of their weight, 15 percent of their weight, and 20 percent of their weight. They then determined how their body movement differed between the varying weights and types of bags used. 

Less weight for shoulder bags

After analyzing the children’s movements with a machine similar to what is used for animated movies, the researchers determined that children’s body weight should be a factor in how much they pack into their bags for school, as should the type of bag they use. 

The study revealed that wheeling a backpack didn’t alter the children’s mobility a great deal, and the results from these trials were the most similar to when the children moved about without a bag of any kind. Because of this, the researchers explained that children can handle more weight in these types of bags without impeding their mobility or risking injury. 

The researchers suggest that when children carry backpacks, the bag should weigh no more than 10 percent of the child’s body weight. Comparatively, parents can feel comfortable sending their kids to school with bags that are up to 20 percent of their child’s body weight if the bag can be wheeled. 

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