THESE days you're never just fat. You have "big genes", or you can put it down to comfort eating caused by emotional stress, gymphobia, chocolate addiction or any number of things. And now you can blame it on your birthday.

According to new research by Somerfield Magazine and its resident astrologer Russell Grant, your star sign has far more to do with the food and drink you like and how you keep the pounds off - or pile them on - than we ever thought.

"Food is such a crucial part of our life, it's only logical that star signs impact on our eating habits," explains Russell, who last year struggled with his own weight for ITV1's Celebrity Fit Club.

"I based my diet on my own astrological chart and lost three stone and 11 pounds," he says proudly. "And after four months of working on my own chart and talking to people on Celebrity Fit Club I was able to ascertain that certain signs had certain problems."

Leos and Aries are the most likely to struggle with their weight, Russell says, with one in 10 being greedy eaters. Scorpios and Virgos tend to prefer salad and fruit, Aquarians eat a lot of junk food and "Librans are the chocoholics of the zodiac," Russell laughs.

"My diet had got so bad," says the Aquarian astrologer with 40 years' experience of researching star signs, "I was actually able to change my life just by changing my diet. Each sign has its own pitfalls, though, so watch out for yours!"

ARIES (March 21-April 20)

"Arians should eat little and often, as they're not a person to be messed with when they're hungry," says Russell. Preferring bright colours and food with taste and texture, Arians, like Elton John, go for Chinese food, red peppers, meats and garlic. Most will go for takeaways, as "Aries like the ease of convenience food and haven't the time or patience for anything needing a lot of preparation," says Russell.

TIP: Start the day with a breakfast pastry (your sign shouldn't skip breakfast) and eat lots of unusual spices and garlic, because your sign likes variety and you'll enjoy your food more.

TAURUS (April 21-May 21)

"Ruled by Venus, Taureans love their food - there'll be times when they're even tempted to go on eating binges!" laughs Russell. "They don't like fish, but potatoes are a favourite - baked, roasted, mashed, or chips. And they like to eat big helpings in cosy restaurants with stalls and big soft chairs."

TIP: Breakfast on home-made waffles or fruity porridge and stay away from sour cream and sugary foods because they are too rich for a Taurean constitution, even George Clooney's.

GEMINI (May 22-June 21)

For a busy and sociable Gemini like Johnny Depp, buffets are ideal, says Russell. "They often skip meals though and portions should be small so they can pick at their food. They love salad and raw vegetable crunchies. But the food needs to look attractive - they get bored with the same thing every day!"

TIP: Lunch on wraps as they allow for lots of variety so you won't get bored. Avoid strong coffee and porridge.

CANCER (June 22-July 23)

"If you're a Cancerian, like Orlando Bloom, it's likely you'll want security so you'll want to eat mama's food. It's what I also call New York' food: meatloaf, mash, or stew like mama used to make it," says Russell.

TIP: Eat plenty of grapes, apples and watermelon. High water-content fruit is good for this sign and good for slimming. Dine on seafood specialities like crab casserole or lobster and oysters as a treat.

LEO (July 24-August 23)

"A sun-ruled Leo, like Madonna, can have a hearty appetite," says Russell, "and they'll spend a fortune on food. They have expensive taste and like their meals to be attractive, filling and of the finest quality."

TIP: Try turkey and cheese kebabs for lunch or barbecue chicken - sandwiches are just too dull for regal Leo!

VIRGO (August 24-September 23)

Finicky Virgos, like Cameron Diaz, take longer to eat and are picky about food hygiene and quality. "They can't take a lot of bread or heavy food and aren't fond of anything that is difficult to eat or looks messy," says Russell. Vegetarians are often Virgos and the star sign should avoid fried, fatty, spicy and tough food.

TIP: Start the day with bagels, fresh fruit and yoghurt. You like plain wholesome food so avoid spaghetti bolognese and curries.

LIBRA (September 24-October 23)

This star sign is ruled by Venus and, like Gwyneth Paltrow, Librans are known for their taste, sociability and delicate table manners. "Librans like to be creative about their meals and enjoy eating with chopsticks and tastes that combine two or more textures, like strawberries and ice cream," says Russell. You usually have small appetites so don't feel guilty about the ice cream.

TIP: Dine out on honey roast duck or lemon and pepper chicken and follow it up with banana bread and chocolate sauce. You'll love the texture combination and you are known as the chocoholics of the zodiac.

SCORPIO (October 24-November 22)

"Scorpios, like Leonardo Di Caprio, are ruled by Mars the planet associated with things like brandy, red wine and all hot and peppery flavours," says Russell. "There's an attraction to these aphrodisiacs - they allow your inhibitions to just sink to the ground."

TIPS: Begin the day with a hot chocolate - you need the energy. But avoid alcohol during the day, however much you feel like quaffing it back. It might make you lose too many inhibitions.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23- December 21)

Sagittarians like Brad Pitt enjoy their food and aren't fussy about what they eat. "Food is fuel for Sagittarians," explains Russell. "They're often in a rush and eat very quickly. Grab-and-go lunches are ideal for them, but they should take care to taste each mouthful. They'll be less likely to eat unnecessarily or too quickly."

TIP: Dine on barbecued steak, curries, and Spanish food, but don't eat bad food in a bad atmosphere; it'll make you miserable.

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 20)

"Capricorns like Kate Moss want to concentrate on what they do. They aren't the type to eat while watching TV or reading," explains Russell. "They go for quality over quantity but will rarely experiment with new dishes, although some will use recipes that take a lot of time and attention to prepare."

TIP: Don't forget to eat breakfast. Go for scrambled eggs on toast or fresh fruit and yoghurt. The dairy provides the calcium Capricorns need for their bones.

AQUARIUS (January 21-February 19)

"Aquarius is a humanitarian sign and those under this sign like Jennifer Aniston are well aware, as they enjoy their meal, that there are other people in the world who are starving," says Russell. "But they shouldn't force themselves to eat - they should be prepared to leave food on the side of their plate if they've had enough." Helps with dieting too!

TIP: Lunch on duck spring rolls, Cajun chicken, or a Thai stir fry and try hot oatmeal with apple sauce, raisins and warm milk.

PISCES (February 20-March 20)

Creative Pisceans - of whom Eva Longoria is one - want to share their food with others and "love dining with their family and friends," says Russell. "Seafood, especially oysters and salmon, are a favourite, and they love romantic meals in cosy settings. However, they are easily influenced so can be bullied into eating more than they need and piling on the pounds."

TIP: Avoid mustard, peppers, pickles, baked beans and Brussels sprouts as they will be hard on your sensitive stomach.