Take a Load Off

by Melissa Brunner

I saw a Tweet the other day that read something like this: If the backpack is bigger than your child, he/she probably shouldn't be wearing it! It brought mind images of a six-year old, all excited to have the backpack stocked with everything they could possibly need. Mom slides the the straps over the shoulders and the child promptly falls over backward.

Perhaps that's why a Wall Street Journal article posted on Yahoo! today caught my eye. The headline is, "How Heavy Can a School Backpack Get?" No doubt! I recall packing my entire life into the backpack in college - a full day's worth of books ready to pull my shoulder off by the time I got done lugging it around campus. And, yes, children, that was before the days where you added a laptop to the mix!

The article touts the fastest-growing backpack my sales this year - it's a model staffers at its maker, L.L. Bean, nicknamed "the minivan." It boasts a capacity nearly equal to a small dorm refrigerator, with a separate compartment for throwing in a change of clothes and shoes. Hey, you never know how rough fifth-grade might get! Okay, it's recommended for ages 15 and up.

For the record, the American Occupational Therapy Association recommends a loaded backpack not exceed 10% of a child's body weight. In reality, the American Chiropractic Association says, the average child carries about 22% of his or her body weight. You might ask what harm it is to carry around a few odds and ends, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports an estimated 27,900 backpack-related injuries among U.S. kids and adults last year, things like strains, inflammation and even nerve damage.

Pick up your child's backpack (heck - pick up your own purse, ladies!) and see how heavy it is. What's the issue? Do they really need all the stuff that's in there? If so, is there any way around it? Weigh in on the backpack debate and, if you'd like to read the full article complete with a few of the other new backpacks on the market, here's the link: http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/674/how-heavy-can-a-school-backpack-get/.


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