Bant­ing judg­ment sets a prece­dent

Noakes,team rest their case at not guilty ver­dict in trial of three years

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

Nu­tri­tion ex­perts have wel­comed the “no guilty” ver­dict by the pro­fes­sional con­duct com­mit­tee of the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of SA (HPCSA) against renowned sci­en­tist Pro­fes­sor Tim Noakes.

The Nu­tri­tion So­ci­ety of SA said: “We are glad that the hear­ing has been fi­nalised af­ter al­most three years, un­less there is an ap­peal.

“The judg­ment, how­ever, has ab­so­lutely no bear­ing or im­pact on the cur­rent or fu­ture sta­tus of nu­tri­tion or the di­etary guide­lines in South Africa.”

The so­ci­ety said it was not con­cerned about the cur­rent sta­tus of the South African di­etary guide­lines or the science around nu­tri­tion as that hasn’t changed as a re­sult of the Noakes hear­ing.

The As­so­ci­a­tion for Di­etet­ics in South Africa (ADSA) – which had lodged a com­plaint against Noakes – also wel­comed the judg­ment, but has called for “clear guide­lines” to guide and reg­u­late pa­tient in­ter­ac­tion out­lin­ing the use and lim­its of so­cial me­dia by health prac­ti­tion­ers.

“ADSA does recog­nise that so­cial me­dia pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic health. “It ac­cepts the ver­dict and we are re­lieved that the hear­ing has fi­nally been con­cluded. We wel­come the prece­dent this case pro­vides on what we con­sid­ered un­con­ven­tional ad­vice.

“The case also sets a prece­dent about the use and lim­its of so­cial me­dia by health pro­fes­sion­als.

“For ADSA this hear­ing was never about win­ning or los­ing, or stand­ing for or against Pro­fes­sor Noakes.

“It was about pro­tect­ing the health of ba­bies and fu­ture adults,” said its pres­i­dent, Maryke Gal­lagher.

“We will study the ver­dict in de­tail and de­cide what im­pli­ca­tions this case has for ADSA and di­eti­tians.

“We also call on the HPCSA to pro­vide guide­lines for health pro­fes­sion­als’ use of so­cial me­dia in their prac­tice,” she said.

On Fri­day, ad­vo­cate Joan Adams‚ the chair­man of the com­mit­tee that con­sid­ered a mis­con­duct charge brought against Noakes by the coun­cil‚ an­nounced the ver­dict in Cape Town.

Since 2014, Noakes faced a charge of un­pro­fes­sional con­duct af­ter he had ad­vised Pippa Leen­stra on Twit­ter, in Fe­bru­ary of that year, to wean her new­born baby on to a low car­bo­hy­drate, high fat (LCHF) diet.

This came af­ter she had tweeted him and nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist Sal­lyAnn Creed about whether it was safe for moth­ers to be on the Bant­ing diet while breast-feed­ing.

Noakes had replied on Twit­ter: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cau­li­flower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween baby on to LCHF.”

Claire Juls­ing-Stry­dom, a past pres­i­dent of the ADSA, lodged the com­plaint.

She pre­vi­ously tes­ti­fied Noakes had given in­cor­rect med­i­cal ad­vice in his tweet, which had not been based on ev­i­dence and could be life-threat­en­ing.

Noakes, who has not prac­tised as a gen­eral prac­ti­tioner for years, could have lost his med­i­cal li­cence if found guilty.

Through­out the trial, Noakes has main­tained he is a sci­en­tist rather than a doc­tor. Last year he ar­gued that had he been think­ing of him­self as a doc­tor he would have re­sponded dif­fer­ently to the tweet.

Pro­fes­sor Pamela Naidoo, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion of SA, also wel­comed the judg­ment, but said it was im­por­tant to note that it had no bear­ing on the coun­try’s di­etary guide­lines.

“The foun­da­tion makes di­etary rec­om­men­da­tions based on sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and the reg­u­lated Food and Di­etary Based Guide­lines at a lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional level. This ap­plies to nu­tri­tion for all age groups, in­clud­ing chil­dren.

“Peo­ple of all ages should have a bal­ance of macro-and mi­cro nu­tri­ents which is ob­tained from var­i­ous food sources,” she said.

Jayne Bullen, man­ager of The Noakes Foun­da­tion, said it was thrilled with the ver­dict, and de­scribed it as “the real be­gin­ning of Eat Bet­ter South Africa and the revo­lu­tion of the true masses”.

“We are elated at the out­come. The clear stance of the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa is that low-carb high-fat is no longer un­con­ven­tional and needs to be taken se­ri­ously. “The nation has al­ready dic­tated what is healthy through their clear choices and are shap­ing up and re­vers­ing chronic dis­ease.

“It’s time for the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion to keep up.

“The ques­tion now re­mains: Will every­one that has of­fered pre­vi­ous ad­vice be tried for prac­tis­ing out­dated and old/un­con­ven­tional medicine?”

She said it hoped Noakes would be given “a proper apol­ogy by the many tens of thou­sands of doc­tors in South Africa who have funded this never-end­ing trial with their fees and sub­scrip­tions”.

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