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Backpack Education Not Enough

Education alone is not enough to prevent over-loaded backpacks and related injuries among school children, say researchers in Italy.

The study comprised 108 students - as well as their parents and teachers - in 2 rural school districts. An intervention group included instruction for teachers on backpack safety, as well as a leaflet for parents on backpack management.

Although experimental subjects did reduce backpack weight by 11.2%, compared with 7.9% among controls, this difference was not statistically significant. Overall, the analysis found that "90.1% of the material carried is necessary." And that "backpacks are considered a problem by 95.1% of parents, 73% of teachers and 60.3% of pupils." In addition, 72.7% of subjects reported fatigue during backpack carrying, while 58.4% reported related back pain. 

The study's authors conclude that backpack education is not sufficient to ward off injury and propose legal limits for backpack load in school children, similar to restriction in lifting loads for workers.

Europa medicophysica - September 2004;40:185-90.