Lesson 8.5: Health Connection

Learn More

Are You Overloaded?

How much weight do you lug around in your backpack—5, 10, 20, or even 50—pounds? According to the sixth annual Weekly Reader backpack survey, most of you seem to be carrying the right amount of weight. However, some of you said you were carrying more than 50 pounds!

More than 4,000 students from around the United States responded to last year's backpack survey. The weights ranged from a light 2 pounds to a bulging 53 pounds! The average weight was 7.2 pounds.

Pain in the Neck

Carrying a heavy backpack is a jumbo-sized problem for many students. Doctors say they are treating more and more young people who are complaining about pain in the back, head, neck, and shoulder, all caused by carrying heavy backpacks. Heavy backpacks can also cause heart and lung problems.

Doctors say that students should never carry a backpack that weighs more than 10 percent to 15 percent of their body weight. This means, for example, that a 70-pound fifth grader shouldn't carry a pack that weighs more than 7 to 10 1/2 (10.5) pounds.

Here's the best way to cut down on the weight that you lug around in your backpack. Ask yourself if you need everything in your pack. Remember that everything you put in your backpack weighs something. Just one book can weigh several pounds. Three or four books alone are enough to fill a backpack. If you then toss in a few supplies - you could be overloaded!

Word Wise

Bag, usually made from canvas and worn on the back: Before I go hiking, I fill my backpack with bottled water.

Sample of the opinions of a group of people: A neighborhood survey showed that more people preferred building a new library to building a new sports center.

Muscle responsible for pumping blood throughout the body: When I finally slowed down to a jog, I could feel my heart pounding.

One of two organs of the body responsible for breathing: As a warm-up exercise, I take deep breaths to fill my lungs with air.

Back to Article


The article talks about the fact that students are carrying around backpacks that are too heavy and large. Which words or phrases does the article's author use that mean large or heavy? Write a list of all of the words or phrases you find in the article. Then add any other words or phrases you can think of. You may use a thesaurus to help you.

Data Hunt

This graph shows the results of the Weekly Reader's backpack survey for six school years. Use the information in the graph to answer the questions.

Weekly Reader Average Backpack Weights
  1. For which year was the average backpack the heaviest?
  2. Write the heaviest weight in words.
  3. For which year was the average backpack the lightest?
  4. Write the lightest weight in words.
  5. If you had a backpack that weighs 1.6 pounds more than the 1999-2000 average, how much would your backpack weigh?
  6. If you have a backpack that weighs 1.6 pounds less than the 1999-2000 average, how much would your backpack weigh?