Sports scientist Professor Tim Noakes’ knowledge of infant nutrition was brought into question during a Health Professions Council on Thursday.
Called as an expert, witness Salomé Kruger, professor in nutrition in the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition at North-West University, said she was only aware of Noakes’ “exceptional” work in the area of sports physiology and nutrition.
Noakes, a staunch supporter of the Banting diet which promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat eating plan, stands accused of acting unprofessionally by unconventionally advising a breastfeeding mother on social media platform Twitter.
It has been argued by dietician and former president of the Association of Dietetics SA (ADSA) Claire Jusling-Strydom, that his advice was not backed by scientifically proven evidence and could have caused harm to the infant.
Under cross examination by medical doctor and lawyer Ravin Ramdass, who is representing Noakes, Kruger was taken to task over the embattled scientists’ qualifications.
Noakes practises under an internationally acclaimed A1 rating which was reviewed every five years. Just a week ago he was re-rated and given the same status denoting a leading scholar in his field, Ramdass said.
Asked if any dietician in South Africa had received the same accolade, Kruger said no.
“I’m not surprised he got an A1 for exercise physiology; I congratulate him… He really is an expert,” she said.
Ramdass also pointed out that it was not only for his expert research in sports physiology but also for his work in the field of nutrition.
“Can you understand sports nutrition without understanding nutrition?” he asked.
Kruger responded that it was true that knowledge of nutrition was necessary but there was a “huge scope” of nutritional fields; but it was rarely the case where someone was an expert in all areas.
Noakes was an expert in sports physiology and nutrition, there was little publishable proof that he was an expert in infant nutrition.