Noakes hits back at researchers

2017-01-10 09:03
Professor Tim Noakes (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

Professor Tim Noakes (Nasief Manie, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Professor Tim Noakes, known for his controversial low-carbohydrate high-fat diet, has criticised researchers who have claimed that a balanced diet delivers the same results as a low-carbohydrate diet. 

In a recent article co-published with British public health nutritionist Dr Zoe Harcombe, Noakes said 14 errors were found in the research his critics from Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town had conducted.

He said the researchers, who published their work in Plos One, did not abide by their own research criteria.

Stellenbosch University defended its researchers.

“When these 14 material errors are corrected, the conclusion of the paper is reversed and the low-carb diet outperforms the high-carb diets for weight loss,” Noakes told News24.

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The researchers said that the senior authors had more than 20 years of experience and had published more than 100 reviews on a variety of respected platforms.

According to Stellenbosch University, “The researchers rigorously applied the international gold standard of research synthesis, namely the Cochrane review process, which lends the greatest level of credibility to their results.”


In an email response to News24, Harcombe argued: “Cochrane is a methodology. It needs to be used accurately and honestly and in good faith to achieve the results it should produce. Cochrane methodology should enhance the reputation of a paper. This paper has managed to impair the reputation of Cochrane.”

Noakes insisted that regardless of the methods used, if the data were transposed incorrectly from the original scientific papers, it would be inaccurate.

The study did not analyse the effects of a low-carb diet because the carbohydrate intake used in the study was 35%, rather than the recommended 5% a low-carb diet should consist of.

Noakes said the research was inaccurate because all participants in the study consumed the same amount of calories.

“This negates a key advantage of the low-carbohydrate diet, which is to produce satiety at a lower calorie intake, thereby increasing weight loss without hunger,” Noakes said.

Stellenbosch University said a formal response to the points of contention Noakes and Harcombe had raised would be submitted to the South African Medical Journal.

* A previous version of this article said that Noakes pointed out that Professor Marjanne Senekal, of the University of Cape Town, did not declare that she received funding from the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) which is funded by Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Pfizer.

Therefore, he believed there was a conflict of interest.

The previous version of this article stated that researchers had, however, said the study was funded by the South African Medical Research Council and the Effective Health Care Research Consortium.

However, Senekal has since said the grant from the ILSI was received in 2016 and declared, as is required by the journal policy on the declaration of funding sources, in a paper published in a scientific journal that same year.

She said the 2016 ILSI funding has no relevance in terms of conflict of interest. News24 apologises for any harm caused.

Read more on:    tim noakes  |  health

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