Prof Marius Smuts and Berna Harmse (President: ADSA) had a meeting with Prof Tim Noakes on Tuesday 3 April to clarify some of the confusion around his nutrition communications to the public through the media. We are happy to report that it was a constructive meeting that opened doors for further discussion.
Main issues discussed:
Comments regarding the dietetic profession made in the media.
After a lengthy discussion Prof Noakes states his willingness to explain openly that the messages as they were published were unclear regarding our profession and agreed to try and rectify the surrounding misconceptions of dietetic practice in future.
We discussed those points that we agree on as well as those not quite in line with our international guidelines.
We also thoroughly discussed the public health implications of the media campaign and he endeavours to clarify in terms of the context in which he makes these statements.
He seems to be very adamant regarding extremely low carbohydrate diets (±50 g per day) and will not be moved on the subject until otherwise proven. He prefers not to make distinctions between refined carbohydrates and whole grains.
Dietary fats: The misleading messages were discussed in depth. We informed Prof Noakes that in his case he is actually referring to a high quality fat diet and that the reference to saturated fat is misleading and have enormous public health consequences. We stated that the evidence is clear that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat decreases the risk of coronary heart disease.
We also discussed the public health consequences for the bulk of our population relying on a high carbohydrate-based diet.
Our plea to him was that his messages should be grounded on evidence-based nutrition.
ADSA and the NSSA feel positive about the meeting overall, and hope to discuss matters arising with Prof Noakes again as necessary.