Academic Research

Prof Noakes & Stellenbosch: The exchanges

The case of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) vs. Professor Tim Noakes was about a tweet – or so it seemed. As the prosecution case was presented, it became increasingly clear that the HPCSA “needed evidence” to prosecute the Prof. The complainant in this case, dietician Claire Julsing Strydom, made nine comments during her testimony/cross examination about a particular paper. Here was one such example:

“Before any media statements could be made we had to get that information and all these associations were waiting on that. It is not like the way you are saying it, it is not like everybody joined together to now make a statement against Prof Noakes. We were all waiting for the evidence to be published.”

The paper to which she (and many other prosecution witnesses) referred was this article, by Naude et al, in PLoS One. It was called “Low Carbohydrate versus Isoenergetic Balanced Diets for Reducing Weight and Cardiovascular Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

This article goes through the importance of this paper to the Noakes hearing and how Tim came to ask me to take a look at the paper.  The outcome of our review of the paper was published in the South African Medical Journal on 2nd December 2016. It was called “The universities of Stellenbosch/ Cape Town low carbohydrate diet review: Mistake or mischief?” You can see the full article here.

The account of when the authors should first have been aware of this publication (but weren’t) and when they did finally become aware of it is documented here.

The first (unofficial) response to our December SAMJ article was caught by Tim by chance. It appeared in the Cape Times on 20th December 2016. You can see this here.  Tim and I were probably not expected to see this article, but Tim happened upon it in a coffee shop and so we sent a reply a couple of days before Christmas, on 23rd December 2016. You can see our reply letter here.

The first official response to our December SAMJ article was a letter to the SAMJ in the March 2017 edition – published at the end of February 2017. You can see this here.

Our reply to this letter has just been published in the May edition of the SAMJ – published on 27th April 2017. You can see this here. The Herald have covered the story here. We end our letter with the following paragraph:

Given that only one error has been addressed and accepted (the duplication), we may never receive an answer to our research question: was this mistake or mischief? We may also never know if Prof. Noakes would have suffered for years in the way he has, had this article not made competence or conspiratorial errors.”

Indeed – we may never know…

6 thoughts on “Prof Noakes & Stellenbosch: The exchanges

  • Excellent outcome, and well done. It’s good to see the other webpages where people are expressing their contempt for the case brought.

    Will that woman and those she colluded with be brought to task? I’m guessing, probably not, but one can hope.

  • At the risk of boring people, here is another link. (I don’t know if “Mercola” is a rude word around here!)

    Quote from that page:
    “During the hearing, he [Noakes] presented five and a half days of testimony about the low-carb diet. He was also cross-examined for three and a half days. Then for another three days, expert witnesses were heard, including Nina Teicholz, Zoe Harcombe and Caryn Zinn, all three of whom presented a remarkably sturdy case for its use.

    [Noakes said:] “For example, when Nina — [who] wrote the book ‘The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet’ — when she finished, the lawyer for the prosecution could not cross-examine her. He just threw up his hands and quit. He didn’t have anything to say.

    Zoe Harcombe was the same. She has just completed her Ph.D., showing there was never any proven evidence to change the dietary guidelines in 1977. She presented her Ph.D. thesis. Again, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming.

    The end result is that we’ve had 23 days in court so far, and we won every single moment for 23 days. We won everything. They have not been able to pin one thing on me. I think it’s the first time in history that a diet has been put before a legal jury to decide whether or not it’s true.”

    • Hi Barry
      We’ll happily have that lovely passage shared! Many thanks – Zoe

  • Has this link already been posted?
    “Statement on the outcome of the HPCSA inquiry into the conduct of Professor Tim Noakes”. (ADSA –
    Association for Dietetics in South Africa).

    It is a blind dismissal of the verdict. But it is worth reading the 64 comments below it. They consistently reject the statement by ADSA, typically in terms that should make ADSA cringe! It is rare that I see comments displaying such contempt.

    Here are a few comments for interest:
    “Anyone wanna cringe and laugh, check out Zoe Harcombe’s deposition on what level of “science” ADSA accepts”.
    “The testimony of Dr. Noakes, Ms. Harcombe, Ms. Teicholz, and Ms. Zinn clearly laid out that there is NOT a strong body of evidence for such guidelines”.
    “Your nutrition scientists published the absurd “Naude Study” which was completely ripped to shreds by Noakes and Harcombe. It was an OBVIOUS “hit piece” designed to attack Noakes.”
    “Sadly for them, Zoe Harcombe ripped the paper to pieces because of it’s bias and deliberate misrepresentation”.

    • Hi Barry
      A welcome post again – thank you! I did see that one via Twitter – the best comment is by BenFury22 – how they managed to ‘lie’ 17 times in 1 statement! I cannot believe they could not even bring themselves to include that the Prof was found “Not Guilty!” in that post. Those guys seriously are beneath contempt.

      Best wishes – Zoe
      p.s. did you see our latest letter on the Naude study?

  • This is priceless. Credit where it’s due….Without the sharp eyes of Zoe Harcombe the LCHF diet might still be on trial in South Africa.

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