Let’s be clear from the outset…this post is based on a study that was published in one of the most well respected scientific journals in the world, the Lancet. Although I bang on about one study not proving a theory on it’s own, a research project that is 1.) published in the Lancet, and 2.) that can get Football fans into fitness and weight loss regimes (and stick to it) is good enough for me!
Dr Kate Hunt was one of the leads in a study known as the Football Fans in Training (FFIT). This is a study known as a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) which is one of the most well respected ways of determining a cause and effect relation between treatment and outcome. During the RCT the overweight football fans (minimum BMI of 28kg/m2) were given an education/training regime that was conducted in their home football stadium and included weight loss materials that had their teams logos on. Initially it was thought that the study would use approx 20 supporters from 12 professional football clubs, but in the trial period of this initiative the response was unprecedented with researchers receiving in excess of 5000 responses!
Adherence to a weight loss regime is one of the toughest parts, the drop out rate of most weight loss regimes is very high. In the case of the FFIT regime however, 89% of the people that joined completed their 12 month assessment…that’s amazing! The first 12 weeks of the regime saw an average 5.8kg loss (5% weight loss), and more pertinently, this weight loss remained right up to the end of the 12 months.
Seems to me like this method of weight loss works i.e. latching on to something someone is passionate about and using the energy and enthusiasm channelled towards that, to incentivise them to complete something that is good for their health!
Wyke, S., Hunt, K. & Gray, C, M. (2013). Football Fans in Training (FFIT): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a gender-sensitised weight loss and healthy living programme delivered to men aged 35–65 years by Scottish Premier League football clubs. Retrieved 22nd Jan, 2014, from http://www.thelancet.com/protocol-reviews/11PRT8506