Gov't, parents urged to take action to prevent underage drinking

DOST-FNRI study reveals alarming alcohol consumption among Filipino youth

The Department of Science and Technology - Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) highlighted the urgency for the government and families, parents in particular, to take a more proactive approach to prevent underage drinking among Filipino youth. 

(Photo from Unsplash)

"The more you drink, the more harmful it is," DOST-FNRI said in a statement issued Tuesday, April 30.

DOST-FNRI noted that the government should consider "creating more programs" for adolescents to turn away from alcohol and other vices. 

"Parents and guardians should establish preventive drinking measures," it added.

1 in 10 Pinoy teens drinks alcoholic beverages

Citing its 2021 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), DOST-FNRI said that approximately 13.2 percent of Filipino adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are currently drinking alcoholic beverages or have consumed alcohol.

The survey also found that this figure is significantly higher among male teenagers at 16.1 percent, compared to females at 10.4 percent. The DOST-FNRI study also found that "51.4 percent engaged in binge drinking."

No safe level of alcohol use

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), DOST-FNRI noted that a "current drinker as someone who consumed one or more drinks of any type of alcohol."

Binge drinking, on the other hand, refers to the "excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, specifically the intake of four or more standard drinks in a row for females or five or more for males by those who reported drinking alcoholic beverages."

Based on data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), DOST-FNRI said "beer is the most widely-consumed alcoholic beverage in the Philippines" --- accounting for 72 percent of alcohol consumption or 2.1 billion liters annually.

The DOST-FNRI Food Exchange List 4th Edition emphasized that a 330 milliliter (ml) bottle of beer contains about 140 to 200 calories.

"Thus, excessive drinking of beer will add up to the total caloric intake of an adolescent and may lead to different health problems," DOST-FNRI said,

Given this, DOST-FNRI stressed that there is "no safe level" of alcohol use. "The risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage consumed," it added.

Preventive measures

With the alarming figures of alcohol consumption among Filipino youth, DOST-FNRI reiterated its call for parents to establish preventive drinking measures among youth and to promote healthy lifestyle habits through proper nutrition and guidance.

DOST-FNRI reminded parents to take time to discuss underage drinking with their children, set a good example for responsible alcohol consumption, and support healthy eating habits.

To remind the youth not to consume alcohol early, DOST-FNRI highlighted House Bill No. 1753, known as the Anti-Underage Drinking Act, filed on July 11, 2022. 

This proposed bill seeks to increase the legal age for alcohol use and consumption to 21 years and impose penalties on violators to limit alcohol availability to adolescents and young adults.

For its part, DOST-FNRI cited a project it created that benefited the students of Marikina City. 

The DOST-FNRI-initiated Project Supporting Adolescent Growth in the Philippines (SAGIP) involved a school-day feeding program for students using standardized recipes developed by the institute.

The project also underscores the importance of nutrition awareness activities to promote healthy eating habits among Filipino youth.

Among the food items given to student beneficiaries of Project SAGIP is the Enhanced Nutribun. This product was developed by the department to ensure that students receive proper nutrition while raising awareness about healthy lifestyle habits.

Furthermore, DOST-FNRI created the Pinggang Pinoy — a visual nutrition tool designed to help Filipinos maintain a balanced diet at every meal.

More information on the institute's nutritional standards and tools is available at