SA’s ticking time bomb

Published Aug 19, 2014


Cape Town - Parliament will soon be introducing elements of nutritionist and sports scientist Tim Noakes’s much-talked-about low-carbohydrate high-fat diet to the menu, as it joins forces with the professor in his crusade to fight the obesity and diabetes “epidemic” facing the country.

Noakes took to Parliament on Monday after receiving an invitation from its wellness unit. He said the country was sitting on a “time bomb” if diabetes and obesity were not addressed. The country ran the risk of becoming the “fattest” country in the world.

Those in attendance included Parliament’s resident canteen chef and Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.

Noakes said one way to address the problem would be through his high-fat, high-protein diet (including meat, full-cream milk, cheese and butter) and by consuming less sugar and processed food, and fewer carbohydrates.

“I want us to all save South Africa; that’s what we are here to do. Because if we don’t reverse (the) obesity and diabetes epidemic, our nation disappears,” said Noakes.

“And this is because we will go financially bankrupt because we don’t have the money to provide medical services in the near future.”

He said in the US it was calculated that by 2026 - in just 12 years’ time - the country would run out of money to provide medical services.

“We (South Africa) are sitting on a time bomb if we don’t do anything about it. It is not rocket science what I’m going to tell you.

“The obesity and diabetes epidemic has one cause and we can sort it out. We are told that it’s our fault, we’re lazy, we eat too much, we don’t exercise.

“That is nonsense. It does not say exactly what is the cause of the obesity and diabetes epidemic and we either accept it, address it and cure the nation.

“Or, as I picked up in the paper this morning, we will become the fattest nation in the world,” said Noakes.

Tsenoli said afterwards that Noakes gave a “very powerful” message that must be “translated and communicated in all languages”.

“It’s interesting stuff. What I like about it is that the guy is being scientific.

“There are some who would like to portray him as someone who’s talking bullsh*t, yet what he’s saying makes sense and he’s nuanced.

“He’s not articulating anything in absolute terms,” said Tsenoli.

He said there was an initiative under way in Parliament to implement some of Noakes’s suggestions “as we speak”.

“We’ve already spoken to all the chairs, introducing elements of what he’s talking about. We are already doing that work,” said Tsenoli.

He said the talk exposed the risks that occurred as a result of “commodification” of things like sugar and what it did to our general health.

Noakes said Parliament should maintain tripe or offal on the menu, which was one of the best-selling meals in Parliament.

He repeated his advice that children from poorer communities should be fed protein such as offal and internal organs of animals and that people should “eat animals from nose to tail”.

“I was born in 1949 and when I went to school everyone looked like me, everyone. We had one kid who was a bit fat and we thought he had cancer because it was so uncommon,” said Noakes.

“When I go and speak to the young girls of South Africa across every grouping and every social class, I’m astonished and frightened at the obesity I see,” said Noakes, whose diet has been called criminal by one cardiologist.

Noakes said the doctor who said that happened to weigh 120kg.

Political Bureau

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