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A new school year means a fresh opportunity to be a bit healthier.

Here are some healthful items and habits to add to your back-to-school list.


Heading back to school can often mean tossing out old, worn-out backpacks and book bags and replacing them with newer, sturdier ones. And often the higher the grade in school, the heavier the backpack. Just make sure the weight of your children's books is not more than they should safely carry on their backs: About 7,600 hospital-treated injuries in the U.S. were associated with backpacks in 2004, according to Consumer Reports.

To prevent injuries, experts say backpacks should be worn about 2 inches above the waist and shoulder straps should be contoured and padded to soften the load. A backpack should weigh no more than 10% to 20% percent of a child's total weight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but Consumer Reports recommends closer to 10%. Plus, backpack waist belts should be used to transfer weight to the hips.


You may be tempted to buy case of snack-sized packages of potato chips to make bringing lunch to school easier and more convenient, but cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables is probably a better idea. You can also sneak them into sandwiches and use them to enhance otherwise boring meals.

Skin Safety

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Putting on sunscreen should be a part of a daily routine, Consumer Reports says, so keep your bathroom stocked with it at all times, even in the winter, when the sun’s rays can actually be stronger than in the summer. Dermatologists recommend sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Strong Bones

The calcium and Vitamin D in milk are essential for a life that’s long, healthy and strong, but many Americans aren’t getting enough. 

Fighting Germs

Children should wash their hands with soap and hot water often, especially after sneezing, coughing or close contact with a sick person. But you may want to make sure your child has hand sanitizer in case soap and water are not available.

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