Professor Tim Noakes has been found not guilty of professional misconduct over advising a mother on Twitter to wean her baby onto a low-carb, high-fat diet, a committee found on Friday.
The majority of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) committee found the South African sports scientist and Banting diet advocate not guilty, and that it was not proven Noakes had acted in his capacity as a doctor.
Noakes, author of "The Real Meal Revolution", was called before the committee after the former president of The Association for Dietetics in SA, Claire Julsing Strydom, laid a complaint with the HPCSA.
It was prompted by a tweet Noakes sent to Pippa Leenstra after she asked him for advice on feeding babies and on breastfeeding.
— Pippa J Styling (@PippaLeenstra) February 3, 2014
— Tim Noakes (@ProfTimNoakes) February 5, 2014
The HPCSA argued that Noakes gave unconventional and unscientific advice, and was unprofessional in his conduct for dispensing the advice via social media, reported News24.
Noakes alleged that Julsing-Strydom's complaint was not centred on breastfeeding, but on the Banting diet of which she disapproved.
Noakes argued that his advice was anything but unconventional, quoting research from as far back as the 1800s before the boom in obesity rates, reported News24:
Noakes said he had personally not made a cent from his banting books and that his sole intention was to educate people to be more healthy.
He and his legal team pointed out there were no studies proving that LCHF diets were harmful, and he had also never told the mother not to breastfeed.
Noakes is listed as the 38th most followed scientist on Twitter at the time, and the 30th most important tweeter on obesity, the committee heard.
Professor Willie Pienaar, a psychiatrist and part-time bioethicist, during the hearing said that doctors cannot give the right advice without consultation.
Professor Este Vorster, a former president of the Nutrition Society of SA, said Noakes could not give convincing evidence that his was the optimal diet for breastfeeding mothers and Twitter should not be used for medical advice.
Noakes was congratulated and clapped by his fans and professional colleagues as the verdict was read out.Suggest a correction