Don't believe everything medical practitioners say — Tim Noakes

Professor Tim Noakes
Professor Tim Noakes

Renowned sports scientist Tim Noakes has labelled the years of his infamous "Twitter Trial" as defining in his medical career, which spans 40 years.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) took Noakes to court after an interaction Noakes had with a social media user in 2014.

"I could have decided to leave the medical profession and my career would have ended... all 40 years but, together with my wife who supported me, we decided to fight," said Noakes.

Noakes was speaking at a Heavy Chef event on Thursday evening, under the theme "consequences one faces for challenging conventional norms" - which he believes he is part of.

His mantra for the evening was simple: Do not believe everything you are told by medical practitioners.

READ: Noakes clears final hurdle, not guilty says HPCSA appeal committee

"Be open ... listen to as many medical opinions as possible and make up your own mind. Try everyone," Noakes said.

His "Twitter Trial" stems from a tweet which a user sent to ask if low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating was okay for breastfeeding mothers.

In response, he tweeted: "Baby doesn't eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to wean baby on to low-carbohydrate, high fat."

The HPCSA charged Noakes with unprofessional conduct in 2014 for "giving unconventional advice over social media (Twitter)".

But, on Thursday, Noakes qualified his response.

"It was a weak question to begin with," Noakes started, before added: "Twitter is a democratic way of sharing information and as doctors, we are encouraged to answer weak questions".

He added that the Twitter user was asking a general question and wasn't asking specifically for herself. At no point did he prescribe to the mother.

He was found not guilty in April 2017 and the HPCSA's appeal committee upheld the not guilty verdict.

Currently, Noakes says he is writing a book - A Diet of Lies – about the lies people are told by doctors. He says he will be proving the lies through scientific work.

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