Support of the Health Message and Health Practices in a Global Sample of Seventh-day Adventists

Abstract by Duane C. McBride & Alina M. Baltazar

In John 11:12, Jesus said that He came to give us a more abundant life. In a similar vein, Paul hoped that above all things, Christ's followers would be in good health. Our health message emerged in a time when the most powerful narcotics, sedatives and stimulants were sold in the Sears catalog, the Pope and a U.S. president endorsed the use of cocaine, and these drugs were sold over the counter in large cities and small towns. David Musto (1999) documented the high rates of opiate and cocaine addiction and the impact of alcoholism on U.S. society. He called it the American Disease. There were very few regulations as to age that controlled the distribution of these substances. In addition, as Upton Sinclair (1906) documented through the vehicle of a novel, food processing plants were filthy and often spread fatal diseases. It was a time of great public concern about food safety, alcoholism and drug addiction.

It was within this context that the Adventist Health Message emerged that emphasized a plant-based diet and abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. Many churches also took this position on alcohol and tobacco. Over the decades, only the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints have maintained their opposition to alcohol and tobacco (McBride et al., 2021). Use of alcohol and tobacco can result in membership discipline in the Adventist Church. While the Health Message with its recognition of our bodies as the Temple of God and an emphasis on a plant-based diet and opposition to alcohol and tobacco is still the Church’s official position, it is important to examine global members' attitudes toward the Health Message and their health practices.

Data will be presented from a 2022/2023 global survey of Seventh-day Adventists that included questions on their understanding of the Health Message, attitudes toward it, dietary practices, and alcohol and tobacco use. Specifically, the following questions will be examined:

  1. Belief that the Health Message is wholistic.
  2. Belief that the Health Message is core to the Church.
  3. Belief that the Health Message has scientific support and leads to a longer life.
  4. Dietary practices—extent of eating meat vs a plant-based diet.
  5. Use of alcohol and tobacco in the last year.
  6. Extent to which the Health Message is followed.
  7. The relationship between the Health Message and salvation.

Answers to this question will be examined by Divisions of the Church and such social demographic characteristics as gender and age. We will also compare these questions from the 2017–2018 survey to examine trends in support of the Health Message and member health practices.


McBride, D.C., Bailey, K.G.D., Landless, P.N., Baltazar, A.M. Trim D.J.B. Stele, Galina. (2021) Health Beliefs, Behavior, Spiritual Growth, and Salvation in a Global Population of Seventh-day Adventists. Review of Religious Research.

Musto, D.F. (1999). The American Disease: The Origins of Narcotic Control, 3rd edition. New York, Oxford University Press.

Sinclair, U. (1906), The Jungle, Doubleday.