Noakes Trial Update

25th October 2016

By Caryn, The Whole-Food Dietitian

This update is a brief account of today’s events. While we’re only 2 1/2 hours into today’s proceedings, I have to say the update is going to be a cracker and I just want to jump the gun a little and share this with you. As I sit here listening to Dr Zoe Harcombe provide an outstanding critique of two studies that have been held in high regard from LCHF critics (or the purpose of quashing the LCHF movement), I can’t help but think that all nutrition (and other) students should hear how critique is really done.

Zoe exposes the infamous Hooper et al. 2015 meta-analysis (undertaken by the Cochrane Collaboration). This study included 15 RCTs and concluded this: “Lifestyle advice to all those at risk of cardiovascular disease and to lower risk population groups should continue to include permanent reduction of dietary saturated fat”.

In brief, Zoe outlined the actual data in this paper – and the actual outcomes – see the picture for a summary. Interestingly (this is what people don’t know), once the only significant outcome (out of 8) linking saturated fat with a health issue (CVD events in this case), was exposed to much needed sensitivity analysis, this significant relationship disappeared. So bottom line here is that this so-called crucial study shows no significant relationship between saturated fat and total mortality, CVD mortality, CVD events (with sensitivity analysis), MI, non-fatal MI, CHD mortality and CHO events. caryn-snap

The second study to be lined up for target practice, was the Naude et al. 2014 study (a systematic review and meta-analysis undertaken by South African researchers) which included 19 trials and concluded this:

“Trials show weight loss in the short-term irrespective of whether the diet is low CHO or balanced. There is probably little or no difference in weight loss and changes in cardiovascular risk factors up to two years of follow-up when overweight and obese adults, with or without type 2 diabetes, are randomised to low CHO diets and isoenergetic balanced
weight loss diets”.

The scrutiny applied to each and every study that makes up this review study / meta is none that I have ever seen before. The words ‘thorough’ and ‘comprehensive’ just doesn’t do it justice. Zoe critiques the big stuff and then even highlights countless “material errors” even to the point of finding flaws in dates, length of trials, and macronutrient %’s reported. Then she goes on to present what the findings of this meta-analysis would have been if these errors were corrected… the standard means and differences were significant and in favour of lower carb.

Wow, this is high-tension stuff, particularly considering that one of the authors of the study is sitting in the room (on the side of the complaint’s team, of course).

Cross-examination has now begun…time to go…

See Marika Sboros’s update tomorrow for a full account today’s events, and her last two blogs for an update on last week’s events in the link below (makes sure you read both Part 1 and 2).

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