For students carrying heavy bags to school, it can affect the muscles, bone growth and overall development of a child, and Dr. Abdul Majeed, Specialist Paediatrician at Aster Hospital, Mankhool said this can result in short and long-term issues. But the fact the Ministry and schools are taking steps to offload this burden is a positive move.
While the issue is still being ironed out, Dr. Majeed said bag weights should not exceed more than “10-15 per cent of the child’s body weight”.
“Looking short-term, heavy bags can cause neck, shoulder and back pain, unknowingly, due to muscle strain. Carrying a bag back and forth everyday puts a lot of strain on muscles and that can lead to fatigue. Subsequently, that can impact student performance in school,” he told Khaleej Times.
From a long-term perspective, carrying a heavy backpack all the way from kindergarten to 10th standard can affect posture, distort the spine and cause persistent back pain.
“Children need to be trained how to carry these bags correctly until the weight issue is dealt with. They should never carry on one shoulder, the load should be spread across both.”
The government, as well as schools, are taking positive steps to make this less of an issue, with the introduction of e-books and devices is reducing the load. However, Dr. Majeed said the introduction of these devices have pros and cons.
“For primary school students they should be taught how to use the device correctly and they need to be monitored. Excessive use can lead to other health issues like eye strain.”
To reduce the current weight burden, he recommended students use bags, which are designed to distribute weight evenly, and to make use of the facilities in school by leaving books on campus instead of taking them home.