Sabah recorded the third highest consumption of alcohol in Malaysia, at 18.4% after Kuala Lumpur (20.3%) and Sarawak (19.7%).
State health principal assistant director (non-communicable diseases) Dr Nirmal Kaur said the statistics were based on a National Health and Morbidity Survey carried out between August 2011 and July 2012.
She said alcohol was present in most of the traditional food and drinks and a favourite among 95 percent of the indigenous community in the 20 to 60 age-group.
"According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption should not exceed two glasses to avoid non-communicable diseases.
"A glass of alcohol is equivalent to one can of beer, 70ml of 'montoku' (a traditional drink of the Kadazandusun community), 100ml of 'tapai' or 40ml of whisky or brandy," she told reporters after a health-related seminar here on Saturday.
Dr Nirmal said habitual consumption of alcohol in excessive amounts could lead to heart attack, diabetes, stroke, cancer and liver damage.