Is child back pain really linked to school bags?

I picked up an interesting story on the excellent NHS Behind the Headlines blog.

It relates to a news story in the Telegraph linking back pain in children to carrying heavy school bags. The story was based on a study of over 1,400 Spanish schoolchildren.

“It found that over half the children had backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight. The study also found that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain than those carrying the lightest, and a 42% higher risk of diagnosed back problems”

The NHS blog exists to dig deeper into the science behind the stories and always does a great job. This time they found some issues with the survey findings. Most notabley:

“It did not properly take account of other factors which might contribute to back problems in children, including a sedentary lifestyle and poor muscle tone.”

I think this is bang on. Focusing on the heavy bags is missing the bigger issue. A lack of general movement and way too much sitting is ruining the posture and physical alignment of children – add a heavy carry into that situation and it’s no wonder people are getting hurt.

The full analysis is here.

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