If you want a long life, move to Loma Linda.
Residents of the small San Bernardino County community (population 21,000) routinely live to 100.
A new study shows American woman are not living as long these days as they did a generation ago, but Loma Linda is bucking the trend.
Loma Linda, where the median income is $38,000, is accustomed to the wellness spotlight. In March Loma Linda University hosted a two-day Healthy People conference that included sessions on school garden programs, “Zoning for Zucchini” and “The High Cost of Cheap Food.”
The University, operated by Seventh Day Adventists, focuses on health sciences. Among the programs it offers is a Healthy Neighborhoods Project that provides outreach to “eliminate health disparities among residents.”
The benefits of the healthy lifestyle followed by Seventh Day Adventists – who make up a sizeable portion of the Loma Linda population – is well documented, said Sylvie Welhausen, a clinical nutritionist at the university.
The Seventh Day Adventist faith prohibits caffeine, alcohol, smoking and unhealthy eating. Many practitioners are vegetarians, and the city requires all food establishments to offer vegetarian choices, Welhausen said.
Health experts blame the nationwide drop in longevity, particularly in women, on increased smoking and obesity.
Welhausen is determined to avoid that fate in Loma Linda. She is currently leading a fight to keep McDonald’s out of the community.
One restaurateur, Mike Samaan said that his Demiana Deli offers salads, pasta and other non-meat dishes.
"They are prepared like my grandmother used to cook,” he said.