'Vindicated' Noakes wants '50 years of lies to end'
Cape Town - Professor Tim Noakes says he has been vindicated by the dismissal of an appeal against his earlier “acquittal” and blames UCT health dons for his “torment”.
The world’s leading proponent of the Banting diet, Noakes told the Cape Times he hopes the lies fed to the public for 50 years would now come to an end.
The case involved the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) levelling allegations of unprofessional conduct against Noakes after a tweet to breastfeeding mother Pippa Leenstra in 2014.
According to the judgment, there were three main issues at the centre of the case: whether or not there had been a doctor-patient relationship; whether Noakes’ tweet had amounted to unconventional advice; and, as introduced in the appeal, whether there had been a fair trial.
A committee had cleared Noakes last year, but the HPCSA appealed the finding.
Their appeal was dismissed on Friday, and the committee noted in their judgment that the HPCSA had started fresh arguments relating to “public protection”.
The committee ruled the introduction of the argument felt short.
“It is the unanimous decision of the committee members that the issue of protection of the public is a fishing expedition by the appellant. This argument commenced during the hearing of the appeal. It is not one of the elements of the charge,” the judgment read.
Responding to the judgment, Noakes said the public had been lied to for more than 50 years about what constitutes healthy nutrition.
“Our hope is that the findings of this trial will bring about change, especially to the nutritional education that doctors and dietitians in this country (and ultimately in the rest of the world) receive.”
The Cape Times put it to Noakes that the verdict did not give the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet the green light, as his comment alluded to, to which Noakes responded: “My wife and I have a feeling of intense relief that the torment to which we have been subjected for the past four years is finally over and that justice and truth has ultimately prevailed.
"We knew all along that we would win and that the truth would prevail. We understood that we just needed the courage to go the distance whatever the emotional and financial costs to both of us, and to our family.”
In a tweet to Noakes and nutritional therapist Sally-Ann Creed in February 2014, Leenstra enquired about whether it was safe for mothers to be on the Banting diet while breastfeeding.
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.”
In August 2014, UCT has published an open letter to the Cape Times.
An extract of it read: “Any diet for weight loss and maintenance should be safe and promote health in the long term. Currently the long-term safety and health benefits of low carbohydrate, high fat diets - such as Atkins, Paleo and South Beach, and in which Banting falls - are unproven, and in particular whether it is safe in pregnancy and childhood.”
UCT said they would respond to requests for comment today.
Noakes said: “We fought this battle for two primary reasons. First to retrieve my academic and scientific legacy that has been so cruelly harmed by the actions of, amongst many others, senior members of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Cape Town. Second to ensure that all South Africans finally know this truth."
The HPCSA did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.