Noakes not using hearing to get media attention - advocate

2016-10-17 18:33
Professor Tim Noakes (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

Professor Tim Noakes (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Professor Tim Noakes’ lawyer has dismissed claims by the Health Professions Council of SA that the banting advocate was using his conduct hearing to get media attention.

"That is outrageous," Michael van der Nest SC said during Monday’s proceedings.

"He did not ask to be prosecuted or to be under a cloud since 2014. He disagreed with dieticians and for that they thought he be must be prosecuted. Don’t be surprised if he puts up a fight."

An upbeat Noakes listened intently during arguments on whether two of the three international experts he wanted to call to testify in his defence should be allowed to do so.

Last month, his lawyer informed the HPCSA that it would be adding the two witnesses, to which the HPSCA’s advocate Ajay Bhoopchand objected.

He argued that they had been added to proceedings too late, and questioned the relevance of their testimony.

One of them, Dr Zoe Harcombe from London, is a diet and health researcher. According to her website she is an author, blogger and public speaker. She advocates not eating processed foods, or fats and carbohydrates at the same meal, and is knowledgeable about public health dietary guidelines.

The second, Nina Teicholz from New York, is an investigative journalist. She is the author of The Big Fat Surprise, which "explains the politics, personalities, and history of how we came to believe that dietary fat is bad for health".

Unconventional advice

Bhoopchand questioned the bearing their testimony would have on the charge Noakes is facing: Of giving unconventional advice to a breastfeeding mother by advising her to wean her child onto a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet.

Noakes promotes a LCHF diet in his The Real Meal Revolution. He was called before the council after the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom, lodged a complaint against him.

The complaint was prompted by a tweet Noakes sent to a Pippa Leenstra after she asked him for advice on feeding babies and on breastfeeding.

Her tweet read: "@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies?? [sic]"

Noakes advised her to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as "real" foods.

His tweet read: "Baby doesn't eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween [sic] baby onto LCHF."

Noakes argued during the hearing that his advice was anything but unconventional. He quoted research from as far back as the 1800s, before the boom in obesity rates.

Bhoopchand said Noakes was using the hearing for media attention.

"We plead with this committee not to allow that to happen any further," he said.

Needs fair opportunity to argue his case

He said Teicholz, was not an expert and had written her book as a layman.

"It would be an enormous task to check the veracity of anything said in the book. What expertise does this expert have that is going to assist the committee in coming to a decision on the charge against the respondent?"

Van der Nest countered that the HPCSA was objecting to the weight of their evidence, not the relevance. He said he would bet money that the council had not even read the book. He insisted Noakes should be given a fair opportunity to argue his case.

In addition to Harcombe and Teicholz, Noakes wanted to call on UCT graduate Dr Caryn Zinn, a dietitian and nutritionist from New Zealand, to testify.

According to Noakes, Zinn had been advocating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for the past three years and had faced complaints from the Dietitians Board in New Zealand and the Dietitians Association of Australia.

The hearing is expected to continue until next Wednesday.

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Read more on:    tim noakes  |  cape town  |  nutrition

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