-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Many teens carry school
backpacks that exceed 10 percent to 15 percent of their body
weight, which puts them at risk for back pain and related
disorders, a new study says.
The threat posed by the heavy weight is made greater by the fact
that most teens don't get enough exercise, according to the
The study included more than 1,400 students, aged 12 to 17, in
11 schools in a province in northwestern Spain. The teens were
first weighed with the backpack they normally carry to school and
then weighed again without the backpack.
The researchers also collected information about the students'
height, exercise levels, underlying health problems and back
The average weight of the students' backpacks was almost 7
kilograms (15.4 pounds). Nearly 62 percent of the students carried
backpacks that exceeded 10 percent of their body weight, and 18
percent carried backpacks that exceeded 15 percent of their body
One in four students said they had experienced back pain for
more than 15 days during the previous year. The most common problem
was scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, which was diagnosed in 70
percent of the students with back pain. Low back pain and
continuous and involuntary muscle contraction were also common
Girls were more likely to have back problems than boys, and
their risk seemed to increase with age.
Teens with the heaviest backpacks were 50 percent more likely to
have back pain for longer than 15 days, compared to those with the
The study appears online in the
Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Doctors and teachers need to educate parents and children about
the risks of carrying heavy backpacks to school every day, the
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about
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