The Longevity of Adventists as
Compared with Others
For many of us, life expectancy is among the most important expressions of personal health. However, most would agree that this needs to be accompanied by a good quality of life, except perhaps for a short period before death. Vegetarians live longer than others, as we will see, and probably also have a better quality of life.
The definitive proof of improved quality of life must await future research, but an educated guess is possible. Some of the causes of mortality that are more frequent in nonvegetarians are the same disorders that result in prolonged periods of morbidity before death. Indeed, we have found that vegetarian Adventists use fewer medications and are less likely than nonvegetarians to have had an overnight hospital stay, surgery, or an X-ray during the previous year (Knutsen, 1994). Further evidence of an improved quality of life comes from a recent longitudinal analysis of 1741 aging nonAdventist university alumni, which concluded that “not only do persons with better health habits survive longer, but in such persons, disability is postponed and compressed into fewer years at the end of life” (Vita et al., 1998).
The information presented below shows that Adventists are perhaps the longest-lived population that has yet been formally described. In addition to longevity, it is instructive to consider the causes of death among Adventists as compared with others, to evaluate comparative life expectancy for different age groups, to note the sex-ratio of Adventists who survive to older ages, and to evaluate time trends in life expectancy.