Noakes’ advice irresponsible, says scientist
Professor’s tweet to breast-feeding mother slammed at hearing
PROFESSOR Tim Noakes took some flak yesterday for his lowcarb high- fat ( LCHF) diet advice from a top scientist with the SA Medical Research Council (MRC), who branded his actions “wholly inappropriate and irresponsible”.
As such, said Professor Muhammad Ali Dhansay, specialist scientist and unit director of the MRC’s Burden of Disease Research Unit, Noakes should withdraw Twitter advice to a breast- feeding mother that she wean her young baby on a LCHF diet.
The controversy continued through the week during a disciplinary hearing by the Health Professions Council of South Africa into Noakes’s professional conduct.
According to the evidence of Dhansay, who was the third witness to question Noakes’s advice this week, his advice not only lacked detail, but also went against the precepts of dietary guidelines, both in South Africa and internationally.
The inquiry follows a complaint against Noakes after his tweet last year, when the Banting advocate advised Pippa Leenstra as follows: “Baby doesn’t eat dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween (sic) baby into LCHF.”
Dhansay told the hearing it was inappropriate for Noakes to provide such advice without knowing the background or medical history of the baby.
In South Africa, where there was a great deal of inequality that affected the health of infants, including a high rate of stunting, it was particularly inappropriate to give such advice.
“Our country has a high prevalence of stunting, and such advice could lead to stunted growth if women follow such advice,” he charged.
Dhansay claimed that there was evidence that showed that LCHF, which was also referred to as the ketogenic diet in medical terms, was associated with growth deficiency in young children.
“Professor Noakes’s actions showed that he doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of all nutritional problems in South Africa. It is not scientifically based and was incorrect. His wrong advice is there in the Twittersphere. He should be asked to retract his advice on Twitter. It lacked detail,” he said.
Dhansay, however, went on to admit he also didn’t have indepth experience of the ketogenic diet, having dealt with only two cases when he worked as a doctor at Tygerberg Hospital in the 1980s.
But he knew that evidence showed that some of its side effects included acidosis, dehydration, growth retardation and kidney stones.
Dhansay also pointed out that Noakes’s advice was contradictory to the disclaimer he had in his book, Real Meal Revolution, and on his website, where he stated that the LCHF diet should not be used by infants and toddlers. The disclaimer also says the LCHF diet should also not be used by lean people or those with underlying health conditions, or those who engaged in highintensity exercise.
“This disclaimer is contrary to his advice to the breast-feeding mother. The question to myself is why not Bant if you an infant?” he asked
Dhansay added that this disclaimer on Noakes’s website had since been removed.
FLAK: Professor Tim Noakes during the hearing.