It might be fast and convenient and seem harmless but, the truth is, takeaway food can come at a huge cost to our health.

What should be a rare treat is fast becoming a frequent meal – with many Queenslanders consuming more salt, sugar and saturated fat than they should.

Statistics* show that more than one-third of all Queensland adults and almost half of the state’s children aged 5 to 17 years opt for takeaway food on a weekly basis. We’re not talking healthy takeaway options either – that figures refer to meals or snacks like burgers, pizza, chips and other fried foods from fast food chains or independent takeaway stores.

Nationally, we’re seeing more money tucked away for takeaway too. Cancer Council research shows the average household spends about 28 per cent of its food budget on fast food and eating out.

What’s the harm, you might ask? It’s quick, keeps the family happy and frees up the schedule after a busy day.

The reality is – excess consumption of energy dense foods that are low in nutrients contributes to obesity – increasing a person’s risk of cancer and a range of chronic diseases.

More than half of Queensland’s adults and a quarter of the state’s children are overweight or obese. We need to ensure we’re doing what we can to keep our families as healthy as possible, which includes limiting the consumption of foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.

It’s easy to make some small adjustments and stay healthy. Try buying fresh fruits and vegetables weekly, aim for low-fat foods and include some healthy fats from avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish and oils such as sunflower or olive oil, and avoid sugary foods like cakes and sweets.

Keep it simple – cook up some chicken, fish or lean red meat with veggies or throw together a salad, get the family involved in weeknight food preparation, and make some small changes to the weekly grocery shop.

Eating healthy can be just as quick and satisfying as a trip to the local takeaway and could help reduce your family’s risk of cancer significantly.

For more information about recommended nutritional guidelines see www.cancerqld.org.au or call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

*The Health of Queenslanders 2012, Advancing good health, Fourth report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland.