Sun, Apr 05, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Citing scoliosis, TSU hopeful wants limits on bookbags

By Tsai Shu-yuan  /  Staff reporter

As the number of schoolchildren diagnosed with scoliosis has more than doubled in recent years, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislative candidate Liu Kuo-lung (劉國隆) on Friday said that a law that limits the weight of school bags to less than 10 percent of students’ average body weight should be put into place.

At a news conference in Taichung, a first-grader named Lin Meng-hsueh (林孟學) said that in addition to textbooks, homework and test papers, every day he carries extracurricular books assigned by his teachers, a water bottle and a lunchbox, which altogether weigh from 5kg to 6kg.

“I feel like my muscles are burning,” he said.

Lin’s mother said even though her son sometimes leaves some textbooks at school, the books that he must carry on a daily basis are still heavy, causing him to slouch slightly.

Liu said that people diagnosed with abnormal curving of the spine typically have slanted shoulders, which hamper heart and lung functions.

Citing statistics produced by the Taichung Education Bureau, he said that the number of schoolchildren with scoliosis rose from 627 in 2011 to 1,473 in 2013, with the percentage of students developing scoliosis growing in direct proportion to their age.

The problem is more serious than it appears, considering the nation’s sliding birth rates, Liu said, adding that poor posture can also contribute to scoliosis.

He said the TSU caucus last year submitted a draft bill to the legislature to raise awareness about the threat of scoliosis impeding children’s growth, while calling on the Taichung City Government to implement a weight reduction policy for school bags to protect students’ health.

The bureau said that it has continuously promoted the policy among elementary and junior-high schools by asking faculties to come up with measures to cut the weight of students’ bags.

In addition, Taichung schools procure and maintain lockers regularly, as well as weigh students’ bags from time to time, to prevent schoolchildren from developing scoliosis, it said.

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