The Courier-Mail

Students left to struggle under heavy book burden

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BURDENSOME backpacks are turning Australian school children into hunchbacks.

A federal Liberal MP is so worried he wants the nation’s education ministers to tackle the problem at their next meeting.

Federal Member for Cowan Luke Simpkins warned that children were at risk of irreversib­le back deformitie­s because they were carrying such heavy loads.

He pointed to increasing reports of spinal abnormalit­ies and scoliosis in the UK and Ireland.

Mr Simpkins was alerted to the problem after the uncle of a Perth teenager complained to him. The uncle found his nephew’s bag weighed more than 7kg, which was 20 per cent of the boy’s body weight.

That was the same as army trainees during rigorous exercises in the 1980s, something which Mr Simpkins, a former Duntroon graduate, would know about.

Mr Simpkins said it was frightenin­g that children carrying more than 15 per cent of their body weight risked permanent damage.

“This represents a health threat to our children,” the Western Australian MP told Parliament yesterday.

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