What Research Says About the Adventist Lifestyle

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Prov. 3:1, 2, NIV.

The year 1967 was a landmark year for Adventist health. That year the School of Public Health began at Loma Linda University, and the Adventist Review published the article “The Life Expectancy of SDAs” (Dec. 14, 1967), based on research that indicated that SDAs outlived the average American by several years. The results gave the first quantitative figures to substantiate what Adventists have long believed—that by adopting healthy lifestyles individuals could make a difference in how long they lived.

Researchers at Loma Linda believed that the difference in life expectancy resulted primarily from not smoking. However, questions were being raised about the role of a vegetarian lifestyle, exercise, and weight loss.

Using the same life table analyses used in the 1967 article, researchers published in the June 29, 1989, Adventist Review an article on the lifestyle and life expectancy of SDAs. The results, based on 26 years of follow-up, revealed the life expectancy of a 35-year-old SDA male to be 8.9 years longer than an average California male, and that of a 35-year-old SDA female to be 7.5 years longer. Researchers found that vegetarian men outlived nonvegetarian men by 3.7 years. Those who exercised outlived others by as much as five years, and there was a two-year difference in men who were trim versus those who were at least 20 percent overweight. Such findings substantiated the effectiveness of the health principles long advocated by the church.

Dr. T. Abelin from Harvard University noted that the increase in life expectancy observed by SDAs exceeded all the gains in life expectancy made in the previous 40 years in this country, including advances in medical skills and knowledge and in the environment.

So why did God entrust us with the knowledge of healthful living? Was it so that we could live longer and better and have fewer diseases? Was it so we could radiate more of the joy of living? Was it so we could be better examples to others so that they can enjoy life more? Or was it so we would be more receptive to what God is trying to communicate to us and what He would like us to do?

What do I need to change in my lifestyle to be more receptive to God’s will for me?

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.