Homework can be a real pain in the…
…back! Literally, at least according to a study published yesterday about schoolchildren’s backpacks and back pain. The researchers looked at more than 1400 adolescents, the weight of their backpacks, and the incidence of back pain. Having lifted my own children’s backpacks, I was not entirely surprised by the results, but they are nonetheless concerning.
The average weight of the backpacks was more than 15 lbs! And more than half of the children carried backpacks that weighed more than 10% of their own body weight. One quarter of the children reported having back pain that lasted >15 days in the past year, and the students who carried the heaviest backpacks had a 50% greater likelihood of having back pain than the students with the lightest. The risks were higher in girls than boys, and increased as the children got older.
Anyone who has had an episode of significant back pain knows that it’s no laughing matter. If most of the weight of the backpacks was books and related school supplies, perhaps the growing preponderance of e-books and web-based homework will help prevent an epidemic of teenage back pain.