Friday, February 05, 2010

Look'in cool, flat feet and back packs

Preparing kids for school has become stressful and all the more so because of the expense involved. Not only do children need to have the requisite kit and meet the appropriate dress code for school they also need the have the cool lunch box, pencil case, and other accessories that pack into their back-backs. Schools have the authority to demand dress code but its peer pressure which determines the rest. Children are all too aware of the consequence of owning and uncool lunch box. They may end up the brunt of scorn or worse still, cruel bullying. Manufacturers are well aware of ‘the cool factor’ and market branded goods at higher prices than generic counterparts. What parent has not had the experience of remonstrating with junior over the cost of a brand named pencil case or lunch box? The added expense of accessories can and does impose sanction on already tight domestic budgets which may lead to further stress at home. Wrestling with mortgage repayments, increased interest rates and a general increase in the cost of living is no joy, as I am sure many readers will agree.

The latent cost of a child’s education must include the expense necessary to cloth and kit the children for school. On average a young child will change size every three months (which corresponds to the three terms per year) Not only clothing but shoes need to be bought and these can be expensive. Supposing you can convince junior not to wear the most expensive trainers buying three pairs of shoes per year, per child is enough to make you take out a second mortgage. Wearing hand me down shoes especially when they are gently used with heels intact and no holes in the soles is perfectly adequate. Provided they fit the foot and are designed to cope with the stress of wear then there is no reason for concern. Trainers can be washed in the washing machine and if necessary you can even fumigate them between users. Most pharmacists should be able to advise you on an appropriate product and the process is both simple and safe provided you follow the manufacture’s instruction.
Much concern has been expressed of late regarding obesity in children and experts believe a contributory factor relates in part to modern diets of high density processed foods which stimulate growth hormones during puberty. Another study reported obesity in children was a leading factor in bigger feet because increased body mass can lead to the foot “pan caking” under excess weight. Flattening of the arches is no that common occurrence despite rumours to the contrary but arch pain caused by foot fatigue is, with the major contributory factor, overuse. This might include carrying extra weight including overweight backpacks. Backpacks are by themself not exceptionally dangerous but medical experts have expressed concern at misuse (usually due to over loading) with up to 33% of young children complaining of backache caused by wearing, lifting or taking off a heavy backpack. In 2002 California government passed a law to regulate the weight of textbooks to reduce overall bulk kids had to carry.

As a rule of thumb a safe backpack load equates to approx. one tenth of body weight up to a load of 11.5 kilos (25 lbs). No one should carry above this weight. An average 27.5 kilo (60 lbs.) child can carry a maximum backpack weight of 2.5 kilos (or 5 lbs). Back packs should only contain what the child needs with the heavier items placed at the bottom. This transfers the weight to the hips and off the shoulders. A waist strap also helps secure the load. The back pack should be no bigger than the child’s back with flat items packed resting against the spine and bulky or pointed items placed away from the back. Both shoulder straps (the wider the better) should be worn to help evenly distribute load. A balanced backpack should hang slightly below the shoulders (2”) with no more that 4 inches hanging below the waist line.

Excerpt from the Afternoons with Jenny Seeton Cutin FM 101, Perth Western Australia Friday 02/05/2010.

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