No complaints that Noakes advice caused harm - legal expert

2016-02-09 16:54
Tim Noakes leaves his HPCSA hearing. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Tim Noakes leaves his HPCSA hearing. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – Nobody had ever complained to the Health Professions Council of SA about suffering harm due to any of the 29 000 tweets Professor Tim Noakes had sent, a hearing into his conduct heard on Tuesday.

Michael van der Nest SC, for the professor of exercise and sports science, argued that he gave advice on a public forum as one would in a town hall if asked a question.

Noakes - whose book The Real Meal Revolution promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet - was called before the council after a complaint was lodged by the former president of the Association for Dietetics in SA, Claire Julsing-Strydom.

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

The 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.

The 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."

He is accused of giving unconventional and unscientific advice, and of unprofessional conduct for dispensing this via social media.

According to witnesses called by the HPCSA, a consultation was required before any diagnosis could me made or advice given.

Van der Nest said Leenstra did not specify that the query involved her.

Therefore, Van der Nest argued, the question was not a consultation. In his Twitter biography Noakes did not present himself as a doctor.

“Lore of Running, Challenging Beliefs, Waterlogged, Real Meal Revolution, Raising Superheroes author. Emeritus Professor, runner, low carbohydrate diet proponent,” is what his biography states.

Noakes did not consider Leenstra his patient, and Leenstra did not consider Noakes her doctor, he argued. The two had not entered a doctor/patient relationship.

But psychiatrist and part-time bioethicist, Professor Willie Pienaar, countered that that relationship indeed existed.

“The relationship starts when the doctor has taken any affirmative action,” he said.

Van der Nest said according to literature, affirmative action constituted examining, diagnosing, and treating a patient.

He said should Noakes have been considered to have acted unprofessionally by giving Leenstra advice via Twitter, a dietician who responded to his tweet should also be guilty of the same offence.

She weighed in on the Twitter discussion, advising Leenstra against the LCHF diet.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

Read more on:    tim noakes  |  cape town

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.