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Are Backpacks Weighing Us Down?

by Rebekah Lindsay

All Media by M-A Chronicle

Backpacks are handy to carry around supplies for school, but many students find the weight on their backs overbearing. Freshman Natalie Black said that wearing her heavy backpack "is definitely not healthy because [she] can feel it grinding [her] into the ground as [she] walks, it makes [her] knees hurt.” Black said she takes her backpack everywhere she goes and has tried to use a locker but found it counterproductive in regards to time management. Students at M-A showed us exactly what they carry in their backpacks.

Natalie Black, 9th grade, 26.4 lbs

Black said, "I've tried to take stuff out to make my backpack lighter but I need absolutely everything in my backpack."

Connor Low, 10th grade , 12 lbs

Low said, "I like to keep my backpack organized, but it could be lighter."

Alan Luo, 11th grade, 10.7 lbs

Luo said, "My backpack definitely weighs less than freshmen year."

Makaela Striffler, 9th grade, 14.2 lbs

Striffler said, "I can't leave home without my backpack and everything in it."

According to Kids Health from Nemours, the weight of a person's backpack shouldn’t exceed 10%-15% of their body weight. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends no more than 5%-10%. Given this direction, the average (per Center of Disease control growth charts) high school male, weighing around 139 lbs, should have a backpack weighing 6.95-20.85 lbs, leaning closer to a middle weight of 13.97 lbs. Similarly, the average (per CDC) high school female, weighing around 136 lbs, should carry around 6.8-20.4 lbs but closer to 13.6. We weighed over 50 students backpacks here at M-A; the average weight was 16.6 lbs.

Throughout the district, school nurses are noticing general back pain which may be linked to overwhelming backpack weights. M-A’s health clerk, Tonya Edgington, said, “There are going to be a lot of kids as they grow into their forties and fifties who are going to have a lot of back problems from wearing heavy backpacks or one strapping it.” Edginton suggested that students utilize lockers or consider carrying a wheelie backpack, however she realizes that it may be difficult and uncool to do so. The ACA believes that the best solution to the problem is to limit backpack weight to under 10% and for students to weare ergonomically correct backpacks. However, M-A students find it difficult to adequately lighten their loads. Freshman, Makaela Striffler says, "I can't leave home without my backpack... I need everything in it"

There are going to be a lot of kids as they grow into their forties and fifties who are going to have a lot of back problems from wearing heavy backpacks or one strapping it.

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