Football Fans in Training: A Weight Management and Healthy Living Programme for Men Delivered via Scotland’s Premier Football Clubs
The Football Fans in Training (FFIT) programme was designed as a weight management and healthy living programme for men aged 35–65 years with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 28 kg/m2. The programme was gender-sensitised in context, content and style of delivery, and hence was intended to provide men with support in adopting healthy behaviours in ways which were consistent with, rather than counter to, prevailing cultures of masculinity.
FFIT exploited the traditionally male environment of football clubs, existing loyalty to football teams and the opportunity to participate in men-only groups to maximise men’s engagement. It was delivered by the football clubs’ own community coaches, trained to a standard protocol, and comprised an evidence-based, 12-session, weight management and physical activity group programme, with subsequent minimal-contact weight loss maintenance support via occasional emails from club coaches, and a 9-month reunion session.
FFIT was evaluated by means of a full-scale randomised controlled trial (believed to be the first occasion on which a project of this type was so evaluated). Men wishing to participate were allocated at random to intervention and control groups (the latter being offered the opportunity to join a later intervention programme). Results showed that men who had completed the FFIT programme weighed, on average, 5.6 kg less 12 months after baseline, compared with 0.6 kg in the control group. There were also significant differences between intervention and control groups in secondary outcomes post-programme (including improvements in blood pressure, physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption and mental well-being).
Health economic assessment showed that FFIT was relatively inexpensive to deliver, and was judged to be cost-effective (for a cost-effectiveness threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life year gained [QALY], the probability that FFIT was cost-effective compared to no intervention was 0.72, and this probability rose to 0.89 for a cost-effectiveness threshold of £30,000).
KeywordsObesity Weight management Men Football Fans Scotland Clubs Randomised controlled trial (RCT) Public health Health promotion
We are grateful to: the FFIT participants who took part in the research; the club coaches in the SPL (now SPFL) clubs; colleagues on the Gender and Health survey and fieldwork teams at MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow University, in particular Catherine Ferrell, Elaine Hindle, David Walker, Karen Wood, Alice Maclean, Susie Smillie, Mark Robinson and Alan Pollock. Many people contributed to the development of FFIT. We would particularly like to acknowledge current and former colleagues at the SPL (now SPFL) Trust (Euan Miller, Mark Dunlop, Stuart MacPhee), Jim Leishman and colleagues at the Camelon Men’s Health Clinic, Professor Nanette Mutrie and Professor Annie Anderson. The pilot feasibility trial of FFIT was funded by Chief Scientist Office (CZG/2/504) and the full-scale evaluation was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research (NIHR PHR) Programme (project number 09/3010/06). The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR PHR Programme or the Department of Health. KH is funded by the Medical Research Council (MC_U130059811, MC_UU_12017/3).
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