I am a scientist, not a doctor - Noakes
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cape Town - Had he been thinking of himself as a doctor he would have responded differently to the tweet that had landed him in hot water, sports scientist Tim Noakes said on Wednesday.
He was speaking to the professional conduct committee trying him for unprofessional conduct. Although he has not practiced as a medical doctor for many years, he stands to lose his licence.
The hearing is looking into an exchange on Twitter in 2014, in which Noakes gave advice to mother Pippa Leenstra.
The day ended with Professor Noakes breaking down as he told of the cost of the hearing to him and his family.
In earlier evidence, speaking of Leenstra, he said: “In my opinion she was writing to the two authors of the book, and how can you be in a doctor-patient relationship when the tweet is to two people, one of whom is not a medical doctor? That does not make sense to me.
“I do not see myself as a doctor. If I had been a doctor and I saw that tweet I would have responded differently. I would have asked her what the problem was, advise on treatment and told her who to go and see. I did not go that route, I went the scientific route and gave my scientific opinion,” Noakes said.
He advised Leenstra on Twitter to wean her newborn baby on to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet.
In 2014, Leenstra tweeted Noakes and nutritional therapist Sally-Ann Creed, who are co-authors of The Real Meal Revolution, sasking: "is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies??".
Noakes had tweeted back: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween baby on to LCHF.”
Past president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom, lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) which then charged Noakes.
Noakes also told the committee that it was not true that he is not a nutritional expert. He said he had been involved in nutrition-related studies as far back as the 1970s.
Noakes said he considered himself a scientist who wanted to “make a difference to the health of the nation”.
“Although I have a medical degree, my training is in science. I am a scientist… that is why I write these books. I want to give information and make people’s lives better,” he said.
Noakes told the professional conduct committee that while he had been criticised by his detractors as unqualified in the field of nutrition, he was an expert in sports medicine and nutrition.
He told the committee that he held an A1 rating (highest rating) in his exercise science and in nutrition.
“To say I’m not qualified in nutrition is just not true.”
Noakes said he was one of the first participants in a ketosis study published in the Journal of Physiology in the late ’70s.
The hearing resumes on Thursday at 10am.
Cape Times and Cape Argus