Heavy Problems for Chattanooga’s Young and Old

By: Sid Sadler

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) – There’s a heavier problem on students nowadays when it comes to textbooks, and it’s not necessarily the cost.

It’s no secret that the high cost of textbooks, has been hampering students from all over the country. Currently, students are scrambling to find a website or place to buy back their textbooks. A problem that hasn’t really been addressed though, is the health problems that can occur carrying all those textbooks around.

Currently there is not a lot of academic literature on the effects of heavy backpacks on college students. However there have been numerous studies on children, and the health effects heavy backpacks have on them.

A New York Times Article on heavy backpack usage, found that, ” The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission calculated that carrying a 12-pound backpack to and from school and lifting it 10 times a day for an entire school year puts a cumulative load on youngsters’ bodies of 21,600 pounds — the equivalent of six mid-sized cars.”

Dr. Horne, Professor of Political Science at UTC said, ” I had to give my 5th grader my backpack to fit all their textbooks in.”

Other studies have found that teens carry, “10-15%” their body weight. Junior Emily Andrews, who is an exercise science major said, ” While cost is always important, it’s also important to look at the overall health effects that heavy books have on the body.”

Possible eBooks could ease the burden of heavy textbooks.

Possible eBooks could ease the burden of heavy textbooks.

These findings are obviously a little troublesome, but with any type of electronic book, there must be a way of getting the book in the first place. This can lead to another trouble, which is being able to afford a device that can display an electronic textbook in the first place.

Mitchell Frame sophomore at UTC said, ” Forcing students to get an iPad or a Kindle could be costly for students, if the teacher went the route of going all electronic for books.”

Another issue that arises is what happens if the book disappears from the online data base. Dr. Horne also said, “Professors really have no incentive to go online, because books could disappear.”

If for some reason a book disappears online, or is discontinued, then the professor will have definite issues when it comes to conducting class. The professor would have to either find another book, or simply adjust their teaching style. This could ultimately effect not only the professor, but the students in the class as well.

Another issue that could come up by using online textbooks, is the problem of online piracy. Online piracy is a big problem with the internet currently, and it would be hard to walk the line between pirated material and non-pirated material.


  • Easier to carry
  • Less overall cost
  • Searching through content is made easier on student
  • It’s a ‘green’ investment


  • Online Piracy
  • Screen glares
  • Risk of power outages

Either way you weigh it, there is much to be said about the topic of textbooks. There are various arguments out there supporting lowering costs for textbooks. However, health reasons might ultimately bring the downfall of the textbook as we know it today.

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