Noakes: Banting criticism ‘unfounded personal attacks’

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The latest accusation flung at controversial nutritionist Tim Noakes was likening his Banting diet crusade to a Ponzi scheme, which he brushed off yesterday.

Professor Tim Noakes. Picture courtesy of Noakes' Twitter account.

Professor Tim Noakes. Picture courtesy of Noakes’ Twitter account.

Financial industry website Moneyweb on Thursday published an article with the headline “Is Tim Noakes running a Ponzi scheme?”

The article, written by investment strategist Magnus Heystek, outlines how Ponzi schemes – scams run by non-existent enterprises to fool investors – have tricked hundreds of people to part with their cash.

“We are now, once again, witness to another example of collective delusion: the Banting diet popularised, once again, by Dr Tim Noakes,” it reads.

Noakes has popularised the Banting diet in his book, The Real Meal Revolution, published last November. It proposes losing weight by eating more meat and fat while cutting out carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.

“Noakes and his band of fellow worshippers are spreading the word, heartily endorsed by certain editors and media personalities. Think wildfire, then you know what I mean,” writes Heystek.

“Pasta and bread sales have collapsed while the sale of organic and free range meat, at 40% more than the normal price, is soaring… It’s like some madness has gripped the nation’s meat eaters, or at least those who can afford it.

“I’ll bet it’s the same crowd, who until recently were worried about climate change and the ozone layer.”

Noakes said he had a debate about these accusations with Heystek on a local radio station yesterday.

“I had a discussion with him on the radio this morning. I’m not making money out of this. The money goes back to my research foundation,” said Noakes.

He also claimed that criticism of his promotion of the Banting diet was mostly coming from companies that produce processed food and the pharmaceutical industry.

“They are getting scared. We are given medication to treat diseases. But nutrition and not medication is better for our health. We have reached a stage where what we are eating is bad for our health,” he said.

“Food has changed so much. Food we eat today didn’t exist 50 years ago.”

He added: “The processed food industry has been against me. They provide 80% of the food we eat. We need to take on the processed food industry.”

UK nutritionist Patrick Holford last week said the Banting diet could lead to colorectal cancer and places stress on one’s kidneys.

Noakes yesterday responded: “Carbohydrates drive cancer. Holford has no science at all. He’s a brilliant marketer. South Africa is the only market that he’s successful. He gets negative press in the UK.”

He said he was preparing to host the “world’s first low-carbohydrate conference in Cape Town next February”.

“All the world’s leaders in the field will come here. That’s because Cape Town is leading this debate. Academics in Cape Town have also been very vociferous about it (Banting diet),” he said.

“We’re saying to them come and debate and see who has the facts on their side.”

Noakes has over the last year battled with public criticism against his book and research.

“I just wish they would base it (criticism) on the facts. If the attacks are personal, I know there’s no facts. It’s a sign of immaturity. That’s why it’s so difficult to et debate going in South Africa. People are so hung up on their beliefs,” he said.

He does have a following too though, as hundreds of people are turning up their meat intake and cutting out carbohydrates.

“I was in Johannesburg yesterday at one of the top restaurants. The chef came to me and said they serve only Banting meals. There are many Banting restaurants in South Africa now,” said Noakes.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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