February 6, 2014

English Baby's Death Unrelated to Diet

BY| ANN staff

An incident in England in which a baby died of
malnutrition has raised media attention over a proper understanding of dietary
recommendations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Adventist Church officials
responded by saying a balanced diet—which the church recommends—could have
prevented the tragedy.

Nkosiyapha Kunene and his wife Virginia pleaded guilty in a court last month to
charges of manslaughter after their five-month-old son Ndingeko died of rickets
in 2012. Prosecutors alleged that the couple had put their baby on a “strict
diet as part of their faith,” according to media reports.

The Adventist Church’s British Union Conference released astatementlast week saying that while the couple
was registered as members of the denomination at the time of their marriage in
2009 they do “not appear to have attended any specific Adventist church on a
regular basis after that time.”

“It would appear that during this period outside influences drew the family
away from their spiritual home and the sound counsel and support that would
have come to them within a supportive Adventist community,” said Sharon
Platt-McDonald, Health Ministries director for the British Union Conference.
“Unfortunately this led them to make health choices that were not in the best
interests of their child. We were very saddened to hear of this tragedy.”

Platt-McDonald said Adventist health professionals “would always advise church
members to seek and listen to medical advice.” She said the denomination also
regularly delivers health presentations to both church members and the public.

Rickets is a result of a severe deficiency of Vitamin D, which aids the body in
absorbing calcium.

“It’s never been the church’s stance to put people on extreme, unbalanced and
non-evidence-based diets,” said Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries director
for the Adventist world church. “We continue to recommend the best available
diet in the geographic territories in which people find themselves.”

One of the recommendations of the Adventist Church, Landless said, is a
balanced diet that includes supplementation when it is needed. “This is not
uncommon in infancy for all infants,” he said.

Adventists in recent years have become well known as one of the longest living
people groups ever studied. Preliminary results from an ongoing study of
Adventists in the United States werewidely reportedby major international news agencies
last year. The study, which is sponsored in part by the National Institutes of
Health, confirmed the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

In 2008, “Blue Zones” book author Dan Buettner wrote extensively about the
health principles of Adventists and their longer, healthier lifespans.