HEALTHY stir-fried vegetables and rice may be increasingly popular in the West. But locally, two eggs, sausages and bacon for breakfast are becoming a favourite in numerous fast food eateries. The result: a growing number of obese children and high cholesterol levels which could lead to an explosive increase in heart disease in the future. Hoping to counteract this trend is the first professional, locally-researched guide to children's diet by Dr Sophie Leung Suk-fong, a senior lecturer in the Chinese University's Paediatrics Department and Ada Ho Hau-sim, published this week. Childhood Nutrition and Growth aims to give parents the information they need for healthy family eating. It covers common concerns about children's growth; infant nutrition, including a large section on breast-feeding; and child nutrition. Dr Leung notes that within two generations local children have doubled their fat intake, largely due to their new taste for Western processed, dairy-based and fast foods. And in the 10 years that she has run her child growth disorder clinic at the Princeof Wales hospital, she has seen many misconceptions about diet. The first section of the book explains why babies put on weight fast in the first months of life and then gain weight more slowly, why a child might be thin and whether a fat child will lose the excess weight at puberty. The section on infant nutrition explains the benefits of breast-feeding. She says it is a misconception that babies need more protein after six months and that weaning foods should be high in energy content. On children's food, Dr Leung describes a nutritious, balanced diet and covers the need for fibre, the option of a vegetarian diet, how much fat children require, what they should drink - traditional soups being a good alternative to soft drinks - and theneed to avoid snacks between meals. In a study conducted last year, Dr Leung found that the level of blood cholesterol among Hong Kong children was the second highest in the world, after Finland. Dr Leung said that Hong Kong people were turning to an unhealthier diet for several reasons. They were curious about new foods from the West; advertising focused on refined food, processed food, meat, fast food and snacks. In contrast, vegetables and traditional food were rarely promoted. Prosperity had changed diet patterns. ''People think expensive is better, so meat should be better than cereals, processed food better than natural,'' she said. Though fat content in the Hong Kong Chinese diet had doubled from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of the total daily energy intake, it is still lower than the average of 37 per cent in the US, Britain and Australia. However the trend in the West was downwards, dropping from 45 per cent in the mid-50s and likely to decline further to 30 per cent in the near future. Dr Leung said that there could be several explanations why cholesterol levels were so high here. ''It could be that we are not adapted to such a high-fat intake. Other possibilities are that cholesterol intake is rather high and fibre intake very low. Lack of exercise by Hong Kong people could be another factor,'' she said. Childhood Nutrition and Growth by Sophie Leung Suk-fong and Ada Ho Hau-Sim is published in Chinese by the Chinese University Press, $90.