Experts say heavy backpacks are a critical issue for children

As students head back to school, a pediatric sports medicine doctor discusses how heavy is too heavy when it comes to backpacks children use every day.
5:19 | 08/18/17

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Transcript for Experts say heavy backpacks are a critical issue for children
And to you to our great backpack makeover as our kids head back to school. We are taking a closer look at how backpacks could affect them. Most school kids say they have pain related to their backpacks and Paula Faris went out on a mission to find just how heavy they can get. Take a look. ??? Reporter: It's back to school at J.T. Moore middle school in Nashville and that means kids are carrying most of what they need in their backpacks. To find out just how heavy the backpacks are, "Gma" set up a backpack clinic. Our expert, Dr. Alex diamond, a pediatric sports medicine physician at Vanderbilt university. We're here with middle school children. Why are these children in particular for vulnerable. They're still developing and growing. The other part about it, they're starting to get into more serious academic work and having the requirements of these heavier books. Reporter: But how much weight is too much? Heavy backpacks. How big of an issue is this for children? I think it's critical and seeing issues with muscle sprains and strains and numbness and having neck pain and headaches. Reporter: First we asked the kids a question. How many of you here have really heavy backpacks? Raise your hand. Wow. That's almost all of you have a really heavy backpack. The American academy of pediatrics says it should never be more than 10 to 20% of a child's body weight. First up, Charlie who is a sixth grader. His backpack over the limit, it's nearly 20 pounds. I have a lot of neck pain. Show us what you've got in here. Lots of books. Do you think -- do you need all of these books? Yeah, for classes. Reporter: More than half of these sixth graders are carrying backpacks weighing more than 20% of their body weight and check out this lineup of fifth graders. Vivian's is almost a third of her body weight. You can see how heavy it is. Toby's backpack also over the limit at 21 pounds. You can't even zip your bag. This is a huge bag, buddy. Overall, almost 40% of the kids had backpacks that were over the recommended weight. But watch what happens with the school's seventh graders. They use digital textbooks so no lugging around those heavy books. 5.6 pounds. That's pretty awesome. Feels so much better. It feels so much better. Reporter: To lighten the load each child at the school does have a locker. Our experts shows them how to lift their backpacks to avoid strain. You want to bend at your knees and grab both straps and pull it up and lift and then you can put it across your back. For "Good morning America," Paula Faris, ABC news, Nashville. We have parents expert Ericka souter and a big problem. My kids walk nearly a mile to school each day and I feel their backpacks and it's outrageous how heavy they are. What's the about he way to wear a backpack to minimize some of the problems? Well, first I should say there's been no city that showed there's long-term damage but parents are concerned about the pain their kids are feeling right now so the first thing you want to do is make sure you have a size appropriate backpack. Don't buy a big backpack thinking my child will grow into it. Number two, make sure that you have padded straps. That's going to give you a lot of extra support and make it more comfortable but then you also want to make sure the backpack sits in the right place. Sits at the child's waist so it lightens the load for her and also consider category a chest strap. Chest straps also help in terms of relieving the stress and giving you a little extra support. Snap in there. That makes a lot of sense to make it equal distribution. And you also want to try rolling backpacks. Like a really great way. I've seen kids walking around with it. Like little lug sglaj I say third grade and up you see them with rolling backpacks because they have to carry. Nice and easy. How you load it also can affect how it weighs on you. Exactly. Take a look at this. This backpack is packed all wrong. Try lifting it up. Yeah, it's pretty heavy. So there are things you can do to make it a little easier on you to lighten your load. The first thing you want to do is you want to put the heavy things, the biggest things toward the back. The books are a lot thicker than that. Make sure the binders and heavy books and binders are toward the back. Toward the back. Towards your back then you want to add in other things like a thermos. If you carry one, don't fill it up until you get to school. That extra water will be heavy and put in the lighter items that you may need. Because that gives you support in the back when you're putting it on. Yes, if you have a lunch, you know, if it fits in, great. If not, just carry it. Don't attach it to the backpack but carry it and that will lighten your load and make that trip to school and home much easier. I like that digital book thing too because that makes a huge difference because thee textbooks they're bringing home is crazy back and forth. Make sure you don't bring home things you don't need. If you don't have social studies homework don't bring it home. Be organized and bring home less and be more efficient. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Coming up next we have demi

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