Cape Town – Professor Tim Noakes has admitted that his banting books were not written for poor people during cross examination at a conduct hearing by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) on Thursday.
“While it was written for those in Bishopscourt [and others in the leafier suburbs], the physiological principle is there – high-fat, high-protein food. Cut out cereal and breads,” he said of Real Meal Revolution.
“We realised after it was published that it was for the elite, not for those living in areas like Mitchells Plain, Ocean View and Khayelitsha. And I have spent my time looking at how we can change that.”
Advocate Ajay Bhoopchand, for the pro-forma complainant, put it to Noakes that the green list in his book was “eating for the elite”, to which Noakes agreed.
“This diet is not for the destitute,” he conceded.
However, he said that “instead of buying a Ferrari” with the proceeds of his books, he pumped it into Eat Better SA campaign and focused on developing a more poor-friendly version of the green list.
‘Working with the poor, the forgotten’
Noakes testified that he had developed a version of the list which would involve spending as little as R15 a day.
His foundation had also been working in lower income communities in a bid to spread his banting lifestyle to the poor.
“I am a single person doing what I can to get people eating healthy. And I am working with the poor, the forgotten.”
Noakes – whose book
The Real Meal Revolution and Raising Superheroes promote a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet
– was called before the council after a complaint was lodged by the former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom.
The complaint was prompted by a tweet Noakes sent to a Pippa Leenstra after she asked him for advice on feeding babies and on breastfeeding.
Being ‘true to science’
Her tweet read: “@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies?? [sic]”
Noakes advised her to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as “real” foods.
His tweet read: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to ween [sic] baby onto LCHF.”
Noakes argued during the hearing that his advice was anything but unconventional, quoting research from as far back as the 1800s before the boom in obesity rates.
He challenged the HPCSA to prove that the diet he advocated was dangerous to babies, as it alleges.
“I have to be true to the science. That is my nature. If it says to me the food [people] are eating is wrong, I am not going to shut up.”
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