Islamabad-Health experts on Friday recommended to parents for home-packed school lunches that can be healthier and less expensive than the food available at school.

“Preparing lunch at home ensures that your child eats food with the nutrients that are crucial to growing normally and thriving, mentally as well as physically,” said a physician Hassan Naeem while talking to a private news channel.

He further said a healthy school lunch is essential to boost your child’s energy, help them concentrate and learn throughout the day, and keep their immune system strong.

A home-packed lunch also should include water because “proper hydration is important to health,” he recommended. Another Physician Dr Faisal Ikram said, there is a need to take extra care when it comes to children. They, being young, can’t express their fatigue and dehydration. So parents have to supplement them with more fruits and fluids.”

Vendors sell unhealthy food and spurious beverages to small schoolchildren not only threatening the health of the child but also hindering smooth flow of traffic, Dr said.

According to experts, such items are prepared at unauthorised factories and that their sales surge in the summer season.

Dr Feroz Shah, who runs a private clinic said that it was common that pushcarts sell unhygienic food and drinks outside educational institutions.

He said children needed healthy food, which contained ingredients essential for their physical growth and protection against diseases.

“Teenagers regularly consuming unhealthy food remain prone to diseases. Such foods satisfy the children’s appetite but don’t help them grow strong. As a result, they become physically weak, their colour turns pale and they get mentally frail,” he added. Children swarm pushcarts for unhygienic food and spurious drinks before entering schools, in the break and after school hours, doctors said.

“The use of unhealthy food items causes not only illness but also poor body defence mechanism among children. Such kids complain of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, high fever and headache, they added.

Shamim Akhtar, working at a school said the number of students with upset stomach caused by stale food goes up considerably.

She said most schoolchildren didn’t take breakfast at home and used unhygienic food items sold by the roadside vendors. Nutrition stressed that schools should examine their food-related policies and decrease access to foods that are low in nutrients and high in fats and sugars for their students.