Seal of approval of Aktion Gesunder Rücken (AGR) e.V.: decision-making aid when purchasing back-friendly products
What characteristics does a product have to fulfil to provide the spinal column and the locomotor system with optimum support, providing relief and not acting as a burden for the user? As this is not immediately apparent in most products and as industry and the retail sector also talk lots of rubbish in his respect, the Aktion Gesunder Rücken (AGR) e.V. has developed a decision-making aid for consumers: the AGR seal of approval.
It is awarded only to products whose back-friendly design has been verified by an independent testing committee made up of experts from various medical disciplines. The special and at present probably unique feature of the seal is the medical, multidisciplinary approach to deciding which products receive the AGR seal of approval, without being influenced by industry which is frequently led by its own pure sales interests.
Commodities with a back-friendly design are essential and important aids in both preventing backache and in treating diseases of the locomotor system. But it is not always easy to decide which product is the right one. The seal of approval developed by the AGR together with Germany's two largest back school associations therefore provides valuable assistance for consumers when purchasing ergonomic everyday commodities such as office furniture, car seats, beds, bikes, upholstered furniture, shoes, satchels, furniture for children and youngsters, home workstations etc.
The seal even received the accolade "very good" from the "ÖKOTEST" consumer magazine.
The strict testing criteria and the composition of the committee with designated medical experts means that the AGR seal of approval is well accepted in the medical world. This has been verified also by the results of a major survey on backache conducted among around 1,000 orthopaedic specialists in Germany. 90% of those interviewed said that patient willingness to use back-friendly everyday commodities constitutes a crucial success factor, also with regard to therapy. 71% even said that they preferred to recommend their patients aids that bear the AGR seal of approval. For consumers too, the seal has become established as a clear decision-making aid, signalising: "this is a back-friendly product!"
Comments on the seal of approval
The Deutscher Turner-Bund (German Gymnastics Association) awards a seal of approval for association activities that are specially good for the back: the "Pluspunkt-Gesundheit" (Health Plus). DTB.
This is complemented by the AGR seal of approval that commends back-friendly everyday products. We support the AGR initiative because it is serious, independent and quality-conscious.
Both seals of quality help to guide consumers and contribute to making clever decisions – for the sake of their health.
Petra Regelin, German Gymnastics Association,
Dr. Dieter Breithecker
Faulty design of the spine!?
Since man started to walk upright, he has experienced meteoric advancement. However, modern lifestyles are detrimental to this evolutionary achievement.
For us, the "art" now consists in finding the right balance between our genetic heritage and progressive culture. In terms of spinal health, for years now the seal of approval awarded by the AGR e.V. (Campaign for Healthier Backs) has provided consumers with fundamental assistance when making purchasing decisions.
Dr. Dieter Breithecker
Head of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Haltungs- und Bewegungsförderung e.V. (Federal Consortium for Posture and Exercise), Wiesbaden, 29.11.2010
… may I congratulate you on your initiative and achievements with the AGR seal of approval, also on behalf of the General Management Board of the DGVP e.V. (Health Action Group).
The current and future conditions of human life with regard to lifestyle, overeating, inadequate exercise, limited education and increasingly insufficient upbringing result in further expansion of chronic illnesses.
Here the focus is placed primarily on serious spinal conditions. A high, verifiable standard of quality is indispensable to avoid these illnesses and alleviate the ailments, as well as improving the quality of life of the population.
Wolfram-Arnim Candidus, President of the DGVP e.V. (Health Action Group),
The AGR seal of approval provides valuable assistance for the occupational therapist. For example, it is possible for patients with corresponding problems to be given recommendations of back-friendly products to support the therapy.
Arnd Longrée, Vorsitzender - Deutscher Verband der Ergotherapeuten (German Association of Occupational Therapists),
Dr. med. Reinhard Schneiderhan
The AGR seal of approval has become a constant factor in providing advice on service issues related to the prevention and therapy of spinal conditions. The AGR seal of approval is a guarantee not just for us doctors when it comes to top quality advice for our patients. Avoiding backache is what counts essentially, and this is where the AGR makes a great contribution.
Dr. med. Reinhard Schneiderhan, President of the Wirbelsäulenliga e.V (Spinal League).
Musculoskeletal disorders are the most frequent health problems encountered by company doctors in dealing with the workforce. Our association supports the work of the AGR e.V. (Campaign for Healthier Backs); the AGR seal of approval helps consumers by providing information about back-friendly products.
alumnus director VDBW e.V.
Prof. Dr. med. Erich Schmitt
It is meanwhile undisputed that situational prevention plays a vital role in the whole complex of preventing backache. This involves not only personal involvement but also the ergonomic design of commodities that play a major part in our daily lives: at home, in the workplace, at school and in our leisure activities. The AGR seal of approval offers important, valuable and proven guidance for consumers.
Prof. Dr. med. Erich Schmitt
Forum Gesunder Rücken – besser leben e.V. (Forum Healthier Backs – For A Better Life)
ÖKO TEST magazine
Commended products: back-friendly products
The AGR e.V. (Campaign for Healthier Backs) awards a seal of approval for particularly back-friendly chairs, car seats, upholstered furniture, shoes, computer mouse devices, beds and garden implements. The overall verdict applies only to the back-friendly attributes of the product. Other aspects such as environment compatibility, contaminant levels or recycling capability are not taken into account.
very good (2005)
How is the AGR seal of approval awarded?
If a manufacturer wants to use the quality seal for a product, he must prove the back-friendly benefit in a test.
This test is not carried out by Aktion Gesunder Rücken, but by two medical associations (Forum Gesunder Rücken besser leben e.V. and Bundesverband deutscher Rückenschulen e. V.), which form an independent committee of doctors and therapists.
Only if this committee recognizes that a product can really help to avoid back pain, the seal of approval may be used. The manufacturer must present the mode of action of the product and submit evidence (e.g. in the form of studies).
In order to pass the quality seal test, a manufacturer must first apply to Aktion Gesunder Rücken.
It is needed an informal letter and a completed questionnaire. The Healthy Back Campaign then discusses all further steps with the manufacturer and leads the product to testing.
In order to be able to use the quality seal, a user contract between the manufacturer and Aktion Gesunder Rücken is necessary.
The most important points are:
- The manufacturer's obligation to notify the Healthy Back Campaign and the assessment body of any changes to the product that might affect ergonomics. The panel will then decide whether the modified product requires a review.
- Linking the quality label to scientific findings. If previous medical findings that led to the award of the seal change, the manufacturer must improve the product accordingly or may no longer use the seal.