The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Backpack Obesity

It’s not a rare sight to see MSJ students hunched over with their backpacks towering like a boulder atop their backs. Unfortunately, such habits put them at risk for fractures to the spine and neck.  How can you know if your backpack is overweight?
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) students’ backpacks should not exceed ten percent of the child’s body weight. So a 100 pound student should carry a backpack no greater than ten pounds.

An Extreme Case of Backpack Obesity
An experiment done on a randomly selected group of students determined that the average weight of backpacks at MSJ was around 12.19 pounds – significantly higher than California’s overall average of 10.6 pounds. So, to fully understand the scope of the overweight backpack issue at MSJ, I talked to Sophomore Hrishikesh Chary whose backpack’s tremendous bulk clearly deviates from the norm.
Chary’s LL Bean backpack is typical of that of many students at MSJ.  It has two large compartments and several smaller pouches in the front. In one of the larger compartments, he keeps anywhere from two to four textbooks, a novel, a folder, and three binders.  When asked about his locker, Chary responded, “I have a tendency to forget things, so I don’t like to use my locker.”

A Strictly Dieted Backpack
Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to help your backpack lose some weight, as Junior Vicky Lin proves.  Her Jansport backpack with only one large compartment holds just a couple of notebooks and a folder; she is also a diligent user of the school lockers.  “My backpack is very light because I walk home, and I don’t want to have to walk with so many weights,” Lin says.

Some Effective Solutions
After observing the backpack load at MSJ, it’s easy to spot some preferred habits in students with normal backpacks.  Here are some things you could consider to lighten your load:
1. Get a backpack with fewer compartments.  The smaller space allows for more efficiency and less over-stuffing.
2. Always use your locker.  With diligent use of your locker, you won’t have to stuff books in your backpack. If  necessary, carry the books in your arm.
3. Frequently clean out your backpack.  Much of the excess burden is caused by unnecessary papers weighing down binders and folders.
4. Use an accordion file.  This will reduce the number of folders and binders you need.
5. Try to stay away from one shoulder types that cause immense stress to half of your body from uneven distribution.
Whatever the solution, any backpack that is overweight should be immediately downsized.  In the end, even throwing away that pile of unidentifiable papers at the bottom of your backpack will significantly improve your back health.

Written by Rebecca Dutta
Mar 19, 2010 at 01:41 PM

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