Among other revelations, the study says, as many as 68 per cent of school children, 7 to 13 year of age, are suffering from backache. Their school bags were found to weigh between 40 to 45 per cent of their weight. According to the Children’s School Bag Act 2006, a school bag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of a child’s weight.
Despite the government’s repeated reminders to schools, children still carry bags which weigh much more with the inclusion of art kits, skates, taekwondo equipment, swim bags, cricket kits etc. The study concluded from its survey, that carrying heavy bags may lead to severe spinal cord issues and permanent back problems.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) under its Healthcare Committee found that children may develop a back pain which may seem minor initially, but can develop into a severe case if not monitored in time. 68 per cent of the school children, under the age of 13 years could face this problem.
“Early slip disc, spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, persistent backache, early degeneration of the spine and postural scoliosis are just some of the problems that these children face,” said Dr BK Rao, chairman of ASSOCHAM’s health committee.
The survey was conducted in ten Indian cities – New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Dehradun, where the researcher had spoken to 2,500 students and 1,000 parents.
“Excessive and uneven loads have been linked to an increased risk of back trouble and deformation of the spine. Stress from such excess weights may affect the growth of the musculoskeletal system. If children start getting back pains at such a young age, then there is the possibility that they will suffer from it life-long,” remarked Dr Rao.
Some parents said that their children usually carry 22 books every day. They presently have seven or eight periods in school, with an added time dedicated to sports for which they need to carry sports items. This additional weight puts an excessive pressure on the muscles and ligaments and could jeopardise a child’s health, the study proclaimed.