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Last Updated: Tuesday August 31 2004 17:23 GMT

Food expert answers your Qs

Many of you are concerned about your weight and what you eat so we put some common questions to a food expert.

Dr Hannah Theobald, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation in London, answered many of your concerns about food and weight.

I really like eating chips at school. How many days a week can I have them and still be healthy?

Chips can form part of a healthy balanced diet, but really shouldn't be eaten too often, especially fried chips.

Try and choose oven chips instead as they are lower in fat and energy and ideally don't eat chips more than three times a week.

What sort of snacks won't make me fat but will taste nice?

Try and swap some of your usual snacks for fruit (e.g. bananas, grapes and strawberries) including dried fruit (e.g. raisins and apricots), chopped vegetables (such as carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes or peppers), low fat yoghurt or reduced fat cheese.

Crisps, chocolate and cakes can be eaten as snacks, but make sure you are eating these only occasionally as these foods tend to be high in energy.

Eating food which contains more energy than your body needs can lead to weight gain.

Fun size bars of chocolate are a better choice than a larger bar of chocolate and low fat crisps are a better choice than regular crisps.

Other healthy snacks include breads, rice cakes, crumpets, fig rolls and low sugar cereal bars.

Water (including flavoured), semi-skimmed milk, unsweetened fruit juice, sugar free squash and yogurt drinks are also good choice for drinks.

Can I eat chocolate without getting fat?

Chocolate itself won't make you fat, but it is important not to eat too much as chocolate is high in energy, fat and sugar, and eating too much of these can lead to weight gain.

A small bar of chocolate now and again is okay.

I am overweight - should I go on a diet?

No. If you are overweight and still growing it's important not to go on a diet, especially faddy diets, unless your doctor specifically advises you too.

Instead you should follow a healthy balanced diet and do more physical activity and maintain the same body weight as you grow.

Can I eat what I like if I exercise enough?

If you are physically active you are more likely to have a healthy body weight and less likely to be overweight, but this doesn't mean you can eat what you like.

Regardless of how much you exercise it is really important to follow a healthy balanced diet which includes fruits and vegetables and can include snacks.

All foods can be part of a healthy balanced diet as there is no such thing as a bad or a good food, but some foods should be eaten less often than others and some more often.

If you learn healthy eating habits as a child you are more likely to eat well as an adult and be healthier. It is really important to eat a variety of foods and not to skip meals too.

Can you die from being overweight?

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, as well as cancer and heart disease in later life, which may mean that you die at an earlier age.

Being overweight or obese can also affect your quality of life. Exercise and even walking and breathing can become more difficult and joints can become painful too.

Am I fat or just big boned?

Some people have bigger bones than others and a larger skeleton.

Because of this their bones weigh more and of course they will weigh more.

About The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)

BNF is a charity and promotes healthy eating and provides information on diet and healthy eating in a number of ways.

It works with schools, colleges and universities to do this, as well as the food industry and Government.

As a charity BNF raises money from the food industry, government and a variety of other sources.

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