Letters

Dear Editor


A snitch in time

A few years ago you exposed a developer, Craig Rennie (nose98). I was working at Scottburgh High School on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast when he rolled into our sleepy little town with money to burn – or, as it goes, he bought his way through town.

Then he was elected chairman of the school governing body. The headmaster was fighting cancer and this was Rennie’s opportunity to take charge.

His big thing was going to be to cancel all contracts, even service-delivery contracts, and take them over and run them himself. At the time I was on a contract.

With all this drama going on at the school I even had to consult a lawyer. But then in the middle of all of this my son phoned and told me to go and get a Noseweek – immediately.

I charged off to CNA and sat in the car reading your exposé on this man. I then ran back into CNA and bought every single copy and distributed them to school staff.

Shock was not the word; Rennie was promptly called in and forced to resign. He basically left the school bankrupt and had also squandered a R250,000 investment. He left town and moved further down the coast.

In 2018 I started my 25th year at Scottburgh High School, all thanks to Noseweek.

Leonie Stroebel
Scottburgh, KZN

Vodacom's fraudulent billing

I finally managed to open a fraud case against Vodacom on 22 January 2018: (case number: Brakpan 326/1/2018). Sergeant Dubazana is the investigating officer. He will be escalating the case to the serious commercial crimes division of the SAP.

This was after the latest fraudulent amount added to my billing as a charge for “Vodafone Live”, an online service to which I never subscribed willingly and knowingly.

I have had several persons contact me who wish to do the same. Also see the numerous Google and Hello Peter reports of similar incidents.

The blatant fraud committed by the cell phone providers must now finally end.

William Douglas

Brakpan

• Following correspondence in your publication about mysterious charges deducted from data balances held by Vodacom on behalf of their clients, I discovered that I had been similarly affected.

All that has been confirmed by the service provider is that a charge was made over a period and recovered from my data balances. A refund in a round amount of R600 was offered and paid to me.

They refuse to tell when these deductions started, by whom they were authorised and how much they were for each month.

Moreover, Vodacom, who render a monthly statement and obviously keep score of usage, again tell me they cannot/will not help, so I will never get to know if I have been done down or not.

Big business has become so arrogant in recent times, they obviously assume they can get away with it.

Since pointing out to Vodacom Customer Care that they are defending the indefensible, they now refuse to reply to my continuing complaints.

Andrew Tainton
Port Elizabeth

Now that they’re sorting out the Guptas, maybe it’s time we got the Hawks to sort out Vodacom as well? Could easily involve another billion-or-three. – Ed.

Counting on Cyril

Such excitement and hope has been generated by Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president of the ANC and, hopefully, South Africa. Like many, I'm sure, my wish for 2018 is that the scourge of corruption that has throttled all levels of government and the private sector may now be reined in.

My other wish is that the courts enforce the recovery of the ill-gotten gains and that the perpetrators be sent to jail for many years.

The sooner we can get all of this behind us, the better.

Jeff Lawrence
Wakkerstroom

See Corruption net closes in on KZN big boys in this issue. Ed.

Knysna fire and fury

Only Noseweek tells it as it really is; it should be compulsory reading for any intelligent person in this country. Knysna’s so-called fire chief is one-hundred-percent liable.

Pierre Giraud
Knysna

• Innocent lives were lost and damage costing billions was caused due to a fire that could have been prevented if the DA had focused on governing rather than on staying in court to fight Zuma.

Darryll Sauer
Pacaltsdorp

The DA should be doing both: in municipalities and provinces where they govern, their focus must be on effective government. Where they have not been effective, maybe we as voters must take some of the blame, not having been actively enough involved to ensure that stronger candidates were nominated for election. Where the DA is in opposition on the national level, some of the court cases they and other opposition parties have launched have been extremely effective in curtailing the criminal activities of a lawless ANC government. Ed.

• The Knysna Municipality is blatantly refusing to take responsibility for their part in this. A lot could have been avoided if not for their negligence.

Gabrielle Serfontein
Eastern Cape

Noseweek posthaste

I notice that my last two Noseweek issues have had a note on them depicting Monitored Mail. My February edition was in my mailbox on 3 February, so it seems like things are back on track at SAPO! Holding thumbs.

John Binns
Cape Town

Modern Galileo or science crank?
The debate launched by Dr David Klatzow's defence of Prof. Tim Noakes [in nose220] continues:


 And what makes you think that Tim Noakes is not actually after all the hype and attention he is getting, particularly since his sermons on running became a little dated? Just saying.

Ivor F Funnell
Durban

It is unfortunate that Dr David Klatzow has presented Noseweek readers with an unbalanced point of view about the Noakes case (nose220). My comments are not related to whether the LCHF diet works, but the fact that those raising voices that oppose Professor Tim Noakes are not appreciated for the valid points they make.

1. Noakes has claimed that the LCHF diet will prevent or reverse diabetes. As a doctor, I know of those who benefited from the diet, and similarly, those who crashed because of the diet. Similarly, for those with high cholesterol, etc. A core argument made by Noakes was that the LCHF diet will prevent or reverse diabetes. Kept very quiet, including by Marika Sboros, [co-author of The Lore of Nutrition] is that Noakes admitted at the HPCSA hearing that in spite of the LCHF diet, he developed full blown diabetes.

2. The dietetics establishment did not lay a complaint with the HPCSA, or argue that the LCHF diet was ineffective or inappropriate for adults: their complaint was solely about Noakes’s tweet about an infant coming off breast-feeding and being advised to go onto an LCHF diet. Noakes, and adherents, have manufactured the argument that dieticians, supported by Coca-Cola, etc, are against the LCHF diet.

3. The minority judgment of Dr AS Liddle summarises the issue that should have been addressed.

4. Klatzow makes the point that Prof Rossouw’s evidence [against Noakes] “actually shows the reverse of what it purports to prove”, but Rossouw consistently says he is not making an argument against the LCHF diet (it may work), but against the distortion and abuse of the scientific process.

5. A constant thread of all the writing by Noakes, is how he has been defamed and poorly treated by the medical establishment. I have attended many of his talks, and I am taken aback how poorly he treats and defames opposing voices that do not agree with him. For example, he constantly states that dieticians know nothing about nutrition.

6. Although many have benefited by losing weight on the LCHF diet, many have not. My wife and neighbour gained weight in spite of adhering strictly to the diet. Raising this at a paid-for Noakes event, his response was that she should count calories. When women did not lose weight adequately, yoghurt and dairy were arbitrarily removed from the green list. Goalposts are moved without scientific rationale.

7. Thousands of researchers and health professionals are involved in nutrition research. Are we to believe there are no credible, independently minded experts who, based on their research and deep knowledge of the subject simply do not agree with him?

8. Noakes introduced the LCHF diet years ago. His foundation has evidently raised R40 million. As far as I know, he has not initiated a single clinical study to assess the veracity of his claims – a standard of scientific evidence (versus anecdotal claims).

In summary: I take issue with your one-sided support for Noakes, and the sparse space given to opposing points of view. Nutrition science is complex: both sides of the debate have very valid arguments, and both may be correct, depending on phenotypes. For example, for selected diabetics, the LCHF diet is useful. For others, it is disastrous. I can attest to both.

Contradictory
Cape Town

Klatzow’s response:


You do not solve a scientific problem or controversy by dragging an individual proponent of a low-carb-high-fat diet before a tribunal. Authority-based medicine has little or no value; this has repeatedly been demonstrated throughout history.

As for the controversy surrounding cholesterol and statins: the jury is still out on whether cholesterol on its own is a health issue and, similarly, on whether statins have any value whatsoever.

It has always been open to his critics to invite Prof Noakes to a debate in an academic environment. Tell the world you disagree with him. But to have hauled him before a tribunal of the HSPCA is a disgrace to all concerned. That is the gravamen of my argument.

Dr David Klatzow

Shame on the medical world

Damn disgraceful conduct by the egotistic powers-that-be, driven by their sponsors’ overseas trips, weekends away, speaking engagements and other childish perks.

I have years of experience in the pharma rep world: MOST medical practitioners prescribe drugs that are prescribed to them by attractive medical reps bearing incentives and showing glossy pamphlets of selected research which excludes all negative findings and summarises only the purported benefits.

The medical world should be ashamed of itself.

Pete Ess
Montclair

Noakes and Sboros respond

It is significant that letter-writer “Contradictory” has chosen to remain anonymous. We can only infer that this was both to avoid the possibility of legal action for defamation and having to declare substantial conflicts of interests.

This anonymous “doctor” appears not to have read our book, Lore of Nutrition, or to have attended any sittings of the HPCSA trial over nearly four years. Had he done so, it would have precluded him from making any or all of the falsehoods and inaccuracies he repeats here.

He prefaces his comments with the claim they are “not related to whether the LCHF diet works”. That is disingenuous as he begins his criticisms with comments directly related to the efficacy and safety of LCHF.

In step with the academics from the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch that we name in the book, he does so without providing a single thread of evidence, robust or otherwise, to support these claims.

Instead the sole “evidence” he presents is purely anecdotal – his wife and neighbour did not lose weight on the LCHF diet (point 6), and his claim that the LCHF diet produces “disastrous” results in others with type 2 diabetes mellitus (summary).

Absent in his criticism is the published evidence that with each new month another 15,000 persons are added to the number of South Africans with T2DM. This is the “disastrous” result of their being advised to eat a high-carbohydrate diet based largely on maize products (as 40% of calories ingested in South Africa come from maize – a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, nutrient-poor foodstuff). These 15,000 new diabetics each month are not eating the LCHF diet.

1: It is not true that we have “kept very quiet” or that Prof Noakes “admitted at the HPCSA hearing that in spite of the LCHF diet, he developed full-blown diabetes”. He did not admit that at all. If this anonymous person had attended the HPCSA trial or read Lore of Nutrition, he would know that Noakes presented his evidence in the form of a series of slides from his published research, establishing that he exhibited evidence for profound insulin resistance (with fasting insulin concentrations eight-times normal) at age 29. That was when he was lean, running marathons and eating a very high-carbohydrate diet.

But since neither he nor others understood the long-term implications of this finding, it was ignored. It was only after Noakes had converted to the LCHF diet that he tested himself properly and discovered that he had by then (32 years later) indeed developed T2DM. Note that Noakes had eaten the high carbohydrate diet for 33 years, having been assured this would keep him healthy for life. It proved to be the opposite.

Also in evidence at the trial we stated that Noakes has achieved excellent control of his blood glucose concentrations which are now within the normal range whilst following the LCHF diet, using the drug metformin and exercising vigorously. In contrast, had he chosen to follow conventional medical guidelines for treating T2DM (eating a high carbohydrate diet and injecting insulin), he would now likely be 40kg heavier with established evidence for the complication of T2DM, the disease from which his father died a lingering, demeaning death.

The author appears not to know that the only proven method for controlling blood glucose concentrations in persons with insulin resistance (IR) without resorting to insulin therapy is to reduce the carbohydrate intake, because IR/T2DM are conditions of carbohydrate intolerance (and resistance to the action of injected or endogenously produced insulin).

Instead he would do well to heed the words and practise of British NHS GP Dr David Unwin who has been using LCHF to treat T2DM patients for years with outstanding results. In 2016 the NHS recognised Unwin with an award for saving £45,000 a year in (reduced) drug prescriptions for his T2DM patients. Unwin has memorably said:  “telling diabetics to eat carbs moderately leaves them moderately poisoned”.

Thus, anyone who claims that Noakes developed T2DM on LCHF is deliberately ignoring the evidence that we provide in the book as well as all the published evidence.

2: It is not true that the dietetics establishment did not lay a complaint with the HPCSA on the basis that the LCHF diet was ineffective or inappropriate for adults. Nor is it true to say that the complaint was solely about Noakes’s February 2014 tweet about “an infant coming off breast-feeding and being advised to go onto an LCHF diet”. We provide extensive, irrefutable evidence to show that the tweet was a pretext for a full-on and world-first prosecution and persecution of a leading scientist for his views on nutrition that conflict with orthodoxy. 

For example in a series of subsequent tweets, registered dietitian Claire Julsing Strydom, who lodged the complaint that led to the HPCSA trial, expressed her “horror” at the information he tweeted.

Also in the letter that Strydom submitted to the HPCSA giving details supporting her complaint against Noakes, she urges the HPCSA to take action against Noakes because he is a South African “celebrity”. She also says the public does not have the knowledge to understand that the “information he is advocating is not evidence based – it is especially dangerous to give this advice for infants and can potentially be life-threatening”. But in her testimony at the trial, Strydom freely admitted that, at the time of her complaint, there was no published scientific evidence to support her claim that the LCHF diet is dangerous for infants (or adults). 

More evidence we provide in the book comes from an email chain that the defence team uncovered only after the comprehensive not-guilty verdict for Noakes had been delivered by the HPCSA’s own independent panel in April 2017. That was after Noakes’s legal team had made a PAIA request to the Association for Dietetics in SA (ADSA), of which Strydom had been president when she lodged her complaint against Noakes. ADSA initially tried to block the request but later agreed when it was made clear that they were legally obliged to accede to this legal request.

That email chain shows that Strydom and another dietitian, Maryke Gallagher, her successor as ADSA president, appealed to the HPCSA for assistance against Noakes – for what they called the “Tim Noakes problem” – BEFORE his February 2014 tweet. Strydom and Gallagher were in direct email contact with a member of the HPCSA’s dietetics board, Prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen. In one email, Wentzel-Viljoen comforts the dietitians by saying (in Afrikaans) that the HPCSA has “a plan” to deal with Noakes, but that she was not allowed to tell them exactly what that “plan” was at that stage.

That “plan” became clear in another email chain uncovered quite by chance by the defence team during the hearing. Emailed correspondence showed instances of “highly irregular conduct” by members of the HPCSA’s Preliminary Committee of Inquiry tasked with evaluating Strydom’s complaint and deciding whether Noakes should be charged. The chair of that committee was head of medical bioethics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Prof Amaboo “Ames” Dhai. Her committee members included UCT professors John Terblanche and Denise White (now deceased). All go far beyond their remit, apparently driven by the need to ensure that Noakes would be charged by the HPCSA.

The author also appears blissfully unaware that Strydom and all the HPCSA’s three “expert” witnesses, two nutrition/dietetics professors and a paediatrician, admitted under cross-examination by the defence, that LCHF aligns perfectly with South African and international paediatric guidelines. That’s because anyone who knows anything about LCHF for infants knows that it means meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy and vegetables – exactly what the paediatric guidelines advise for infant weaning.

4: Former UCT Professor Jacques Rossouw, recently retired from the NIH in the US, is a long-time critic and vociferous opponent of both Noakes and LCHF. When the HPCSA realised its case against Noakes was unlikely to succeed, they invited Rossouw to give expert witness testimony against him. Despite agreeing, Rossouw failed to appear in court.

In our book we document Rossouw’s conflicts of interest as a witness. He was responsible for directing the $700 million Women’s Health Initiative Study, the single most expensive diet study in history. The goal was to prove that the low-fat diet prevents cancer, heart disease, T2DM and weight gain in post-menopausal women. Inconveniently the study found that the low-fat diet worsened T2DM and heart disease in those who began the trial with the conditions; it had no effect on cancer risks and it caused increased weight gain compared to a low carbohydrate diet.

Rossouw’s everlasting scientific legacy is his contemptuous refusal to accept that his $700m never-to-be-repeated trial is the absolute proof that the low-fat diet is an abysmal failure and is indeed the direct cause of the twin modern epidemics of obesity and T2DM (amongst many other conditions).

It is interesting that by way of proof for Rossouw’s views, the anonymous author refers to blogs by Rossouw’s son, UCT commerce faculty junior lecturer, Jacques Rousseau [different spelling intentional]. In Lore of Nutrition, we give details of more than 30 blogs Rousseau jnr has written, attacking Noakes in defamatory language, accusing him of practising pseudoscience and being a quack, all without any solid evidence to back up his personal opinions. Rousseau jnr began to declare upfront that he is son of Rossouw snr only after people had begun to point out this relationship on social media.

5: It is correct that a thread in Noakes’s writing and a major exposé in Lore of Nutrition is how top doctors, dietitians and academics have defamed and ganged up against him in public and how poorly the medical establishment has treated him. We name them all, and give details and all the evidence for this in our book. In the closing chapter, we say that it is tempting to think (as this anonymous author appears to) that there can’t possibly be so many top doctors, dietitians and academics out of step except Noakes. We say that it is not just possible – as anything is – but that we have provided compelling evidence, available on the record, that it is highly probable.

Noakes has never defamed any colleagues or dietitians. In his talks he simply presents the evidence for the benefits of the LCHF diet. He has acknowledged the strengths of the medical and dietetic professions. He has also criticised both professions for clinging to the unproven diet-heart hypothesis that saturated fat causes heart disease, and who believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that dietary fat causes fatty liver disease. (Evidence is now overwhelming that excess carbohydrates cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which then leads to atherogenic dyslipidaemia and arterial disease.)

6. The anonymous author claims that although “many have benefited by losing weight on the LCHF diet, many have not”. Again, he fails to provide any evidence to support this statement. He claims that “Goal posts are moved without scientific rationale”. Again he provides no evidence for any of his contentions.

The true value of the LCHF diet is not that it causes weight loss in the majority. Its benefit is that, in all, it reverses the condition of persistent hyperinsulinaemia which, as we show in great detail in Lore of Nutrition, is the fundamental driver of the vast majority of chronic diseases that now afflict us. The evidence for this is the work of Gerald Reaven MD, emeritus professor of medicine at Stanford University, which is worthy of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

8. How would your anonymous correspondent know what the financial status of the Noakes Foundation is? We just wish the Foundation had raised R40m in grant money because if it had, it would likely already have measured the value of the LCHF diet especially in the poorer SA communities – our Eat Better South Africa campaign. Instead we have raised and are in the process of spending R8m in a series of research studies.

In 2016, the SAMJ published a Canadian-led study: a successful lifestyle intervention model replicated in diverse clinical settings, of which Noakes is a co-author. In it,the LCHF diet reversed the metabolic syndrome in a large number of patients – a fundamentally important study with international repercussions.

All this person does is to provide more evidence that many doctors and dietitians have for decades been giving patients the wrong advice about the best treatment for the “chronic diseases of lifestyle”, that they lack the courage to admit that they have been wrong; that they fear losing careers, reputations and funding if they stand up to orthodoxy; and that they cannot distinguish between the messenger and a message they fear to hear.

We have been well-behaved beyond the call of duty and vigorous in responding to and defending ourselves from defamatory attacks on our character and professionalism. 

Marika Sboros and Timothy Noakes

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Submitted by : Pete Ess on 2018-02-24 08:22:37
Here's an example of the "experts" who rail against Noakes. I went to a conference at which Noakes spoke. Next morning I had breakfast with a colleague who railed against Noakes for the 'nonsense' he spoke. I said I think Noakes will be proven correct. I think he's doing actual scientific research, not anecdotal or "population studies" where people are asked what they eat ("How much alcohol do you drink each day?" - Er . . . ).
WELL! Did I know of the "China Study"?! Yes, I said, and to my mind it's unscientific and discredited and was done by people invested in the business of nutrition. It is only regarded as scientific because 1. That's the way nutrition science was done then; 2. It had a pre-ordained conclusion which supported the authors' and other big businesses;
He didn't like that.
Later I found out he runs a sideline business promoting "whole foods". Hello-o!
(aside: I ate egg and bacon, he ate a mountain of fruit and muesli).

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