John P. Sheehan, M.D.
Overloaded backpacks cause stress on the spine and shoulders, resulting in muscle fatigue and strain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). In fact, the excessive weight in backpacks may cause a child to develop poor posture or slouch excessively.
The AAOS recommends that the maximum weight of the child’s backpack not exceed 15-20 percent of the child’s weight. A child who weighs 80 pounds should not carry more than 12-16 pounds in a backpack. This figure may vary depending on the child’s strength and fitness level.
Watch for the following warning signs that a backpack is too heavy: