EVEN THOUGH children and teenagers know that junk food such as crisps and fish balls are 'bad', most would still opt for fast food over fruit or sandwiches when given a choice. When choosing snacks, youngsters seem to be indifferent to health concerns. 'My favourite snack is crisps because they're salty and crispy,' says nine-year-old Medora Choi Ming-yee from Marymount Primary School. Ming-yee and her classmates usually huddle together during recess, sampling each other's snacks. The children bring their own from home because the school does not have a tuck shop. Parents exercise little control over the snacks their children eat and senior form students can buy their desired delights with their own pocket money. Ming-yee says she would ask to have some of her friends' crisps if her parents did not buy them for her. Young people have their own tastes. Some students have a sweet tooth while others develop a penchant for savoury snacks. Lan Man-ching, 16, likes chocolates, sweets and chocolate pretzels. During the summer holidays, she goes with her friends to enjoy Taiwanese milk tea. For 18-year-old Chan Tsz-yeung, crisps and bubble gum are his favourites. He also likes to cook instant noodles during the holidays. Dickson Fortune Yeung, 16, says: 'I usually order [chicken] wings from a fast food chain because they're cheap, but my favourite foods are chewing gum and crisps. In fact, that's basically my diet.' Nicholas Wong Lik-hong, also 16, likes fried dough sticks with congee from a dai pai dong when he is out with friends. Most students said they liked staying at home, eating snacks while watching their favourite television programmes. Young Post did a quick survey. Top snacks among many 15- to 18-year-olds in descending order were crisps, chocolates, bubble gum, instant noodles and ice-cream. Contrary to expectations, those surveyed did not crave curried fish balls. So the Education Department's ban, in May, on schools selling hot snacks to cut food poisoning cases did not upset many students. Apart from taste, the pretty packaging on some snacks also entices children and teenagers into buying the products. Tan Wing-ki, 15, points to her elegantly packaged Japanese chocolates and says: 'I like these!' Girls tend to prefer sweet snacks with attractive packaging such as chocolates, cookies and candy, whereas boys enjoy instant noodles, crisps and peanuts. Some people believe that eating small amounts of snacks at regular intervals helps to maintain high and stable energy levels, but mindless munching will probably catch up with your waistline sooner or later. Enjoy your pleasures, but remember that too many snacks and chewing gum could upset your stomach.