Sunday Times

Noakes an­gered ‘Big Sugar’, says US fit­ness guru

- PHI­LANI NOMBEMBE

“BIG Sugar” is be­hind the cam­paign to dis­credit Bant­ing cham­pion Tim Noakes, says a US in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Its re­port links the In­ter­na­tional Life Sci­ences In­sti­tute (Ilsi), a “Coca-Cola proxy”, to key fig­ures in the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa dis­ci­plinary process against Noakes.

But Claire Stry­dom, who re­ported Noakes for un­pro­fes­sional con­duct on be­half of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Di­etet­ics in South Africa, said: “I am dis­ap­pointed that any­one would pub­lish these base­less con­spir­acy the­o­ries.”

The re­port, Big Food vs Tim Noakes: The Fi­nal Cru­sade, is by Russ Greene, of fit­ness busi­ness CrossFit, who trav­elled to Cape Town to in­ter­view Noakes and said he had spent up to 150 hours on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But he ad­mit­ted he had not ap­proached any of the in­di­vid­u­als or or­gan­i­sa­tions his in­ves­ti­ga­tion points the fin­ger at. “I knew . . . it was very un­likely that they would re­spond to me,” he said.

Say­ing “it is hard to say where Coca­good Cola ends and where Greene re­ports:

Food gi­ant Kel­logg’s, a mem­ber of Ilsi, spon­sored Stry­dom’s com­pany, Nu­tri­tion So­lu­tions;

Re­tired North-West Uni­ver­sity nu­tri­tion pro­fes­sor Esté Vorster, who gave ev­i­dence against Noakes, was pres­i­dent of Ilsi South Africa from 1997 to 2001 and a mem­ber of the South African Sugar As­so­ci­a­tion’s sci­en­tific panel;

Ali Dhansay, di­rec­tor of the nu­tri­tional in­ter­ven­tion re­search unit at the Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil and an ex­pert wit­ness against Noakes, was pres­i­dent of Ilsi South Africa in 2013;

Salomé Kruger, an ex­pert wit­ness, ac­cepted South African Sugar As­so­ci­a­tion fund­ing for a study which found that “phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity”, not overeat­ing, was the “ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant of obe­sity in black women in the North West prov­ince”; and

Another 17 South Africans in­volved in the As­so­ci­a­tion of Di­etet­ics in South Africa, in com­pil­ing South African di­etary guide­lines or work­ing for the Depart­ment of Health, had links with Ilsi or big food com­pa­nies.

“The food in­dus­try is at­tempt­ing to use Dr Noakes in or­der to set an ex­am­ple to any­one who dares chal­lenge its author­ity in nu­tri­tion,” the re­port says.

“To some, the Noakes trial may look like fas­cist speech re­pres­sion in pro­mo­tion of toxic prod­ucts, but for Coca-Cola and its prox­ies, it is just Ilsi starts”, TAR­GET: Tim Noakes is the sub­ject of an HPCSA dis­ci­plinary hear­ing SLEUTH: Russ Greene tracked down the spon­sors of Noakes’s crit­ics busi­ness.”

This week Noakes — who was re­ported to the HPCSA af­ter he tweeted that ba­bies should be weaned on to low­car­bo­hy­drate di­ets — said: “I hope that they [Greene] are cor­rect but this will come out in the fu­ture.”

Ilsi South Africa said it did not have “ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to in­fant nu­tri­tion, nor has it ever ad­dressed the health ef­fects of low-car­bo­hy­drate di­ets. Fur­ther, Ilsi South Africa has never been part of any dis­cus­sion [on Noakes].”

Dhansay and Vorster de­clined to com­ment. Kruger said sci­en­tists had al­ways ad­vised in­dus­try and Noakes had ac­cepted fund­ing sim­i­lar to hers.

Zip­po­rah Maubane, Coca-Cola com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief in East and South­ern Africa, said: “The al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety by Coca-Cola are spec­u­la­tive, un­in­formed and in­ac­cu­rate and we cat­e­gor­i­cally re­ject the im­pli­ca­tion that the Coca-Cola Com­pany has in­flu­enced the pro­ceed­ings against Prof Noakes.”

Kel­logg’s did not re­spond to queries.

The trial may look like fas­cist speech re­pres­sion, but for Coca-Cola and its prox­ies, it is just good busi­ness

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