Summer camp meeting has always been one of the great Adventist gatherings and many appreciate the spiritual refreshment it offers through sermons, seminars, music and fellowship. This summer though, a lot of people experienced another sense of renewal as they listened to special presentations by Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) researchers and learned more about the latest scientific findings from the study.
In July 2011, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded AHS-2 $5.5 million to continue the study for another five years and these camp meeting visits were all about honoring the commitment of AHS-2 to share the latest results with study participants while giving a personal face to the research.
“Despite the fairly tight schedule, all of the presentations were warmly received. There was very good support and interest from the Conference administrators and the pastors who assisted me on the Sabbaths. Several people, who wanted for more information, even followed me to the foyer to ask questions afterwards,” said Terry Butler, DrPH, one of AHS senior researchers assigned to do the presentations.
During the month of June, he gave talks at a number of North American Division Camp Meetings, including Minnesota Conference Camp Meeting, held at Maplewood Academy, Hutchinson. Dr. Butler’s main presentation was entitled “Are Adventists Living Longer and Healthier? Latest Findings from the Adventist Health Studies” which also contained a short video clip of AHS-2 director, Gary Fraser, MD, PhD. His combined audiences on Sabbath, June 9—he spoke at the beginning of the second church service and also in the afternoon service—were no less than 1,200 people.
“Most of my presentation was on the preliminary findings from AHS-2 and the Adventist Religion & Health Study (sub-study of AHS-2) with anticipation of some major findings during the next three years.
We now know that vegetarian Adventists have lower mortality rates, and lower rates of certain cancers compared to non-vegetarian study member.
“We also know that couples who are more religiously alike report more marital satisfaction, ” said Dr. Butler.
There were many active study members among the congregations and he was able to meet with them at most of the locations. “They asked a variety of questions, but the typical ones were on the diet classifications, the pesco-vegetarian diet, what we were doing about Alzheimer’s disease and how to get further information,” said Dr. Butler, an epidemiologist and pastor who previously served as Union and Division Health Ministries director for the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “All in all the presentation was very well received and I am grateful for my host Elder Justin Lyon. I’d like to also thank Elder Ed Barnett who introduced me in both meetings and Pastor Bob Brauer who helped me with the PowerPoint.”
Another senior co-investigator, Patti Herring, PhD, accompanied by her research assistants Donna Richards and Nicceta Davis, visited Central States Camp Meeting, held at Unity Village, Kansas City. She, too, received positive responses from the audiences. “They were glad to learn that the Study is not over and would be continuing for many more years,” reported Dr. Herring.
Her presentation usually started with a short video of media coverage on the AHS-2—news clips from the CNN, ABC, National Geographic, etc—followed by a quick summary on the health outcomes of this particular Conference. This include the percentage of those who reported having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, patterns of meat eating or vegetarians, and levels of physical activity. At the same time, she also shared a few health tips for managing high blood pressure, managing diabetes, lowering cholesterol, preventing health disease, and lowering their risks of various cancers.
“We looked at meat eating patterns in Black study members and found that vegans had the best health outcomes. They reported less high blood pressure, less diabetes, and lower blood cholesterol than non-vegetarians,” explained Dr. Herring, a health promotion professor at the School of Public Health, Loma Linda University.
At the end not only people went home refreshed, with many practical yet valuable health tips, they also discovered some feedback on how to improve their own health indices. And that was very encouraging for the attendees who were largely from African-American congregations. “Blacks have the worst health conditions compared to other ethnic groups in America, but this is our time to tell the world that Black Adventists have better health outcomes,” said Dr. Herring, challenging the audiences.
To find out more about the Adventist Health Study-2, please visit our website www.adventisthealthstudy.org, or “like” us on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/AHS2.0.
By Barry Manembu, MPA, project editor for Loma Linda University School of Public Health
How to lower your blood pressure, prevent stroke and heart disease, and reduce the risk of cancers by trending toward a plant-base diet (if you are not there already):
1. Engaging in regular physical activity (4-5 days a week, 20-30 mins each)
2. Eating 2 baby carrots every day
3. Eating garlic (fresh or garlic powder in foods) every day
4. Drinking 5-8 glasses of water a day (1 glass before sleep at night)
5. Eating nuts (i.e., walnuts), even only 10 ounces per day
6. Eating beans
7. Eating whole wheat bread
8. Drinking soy milk