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Stirling health researcher helps football fans tackle…their weight

Scottish football fans can continue to train towards a healthier future thanks to an exciting project backed by the Scottish Premier League (SPL) Trust.

Dr Cindy Gray, from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at the University of Stirling, was part of a team of public health experts who devised Football Fans in Training (FFIT), an innovative programme tackling a number of men’s health issues through SPL clubs.

Some 355 supporters took part in a 12 week course at their local club between September and December 2010, with participants losing a total of 1,202 kg in weight and 1,142 cm from their waists.

This success has seen the SPL Trust move to confirm funding of £100,000 for the second year of the programme, which is supported by the Scottish Government Public Health Directorate and The Football Pools.

It was developed in consultation with public health and gender experts at the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (MRC SPHSU), the Universities of Stirling, Dundee and Strathclyde, and NHS Forth Valley.

Dr Gray worked closely with the clubs as they delivered the programme while researching its findings. She said: “We are delighted with the results from the Football Fans in Training Programme. The early results are really encouraging, the guys have lost weight and the coaches have been really enthusiastic.

“From travelling around the clubs and speaking to the participants, I know that the men have been enjoying themselves while at the same time changing their lives for the better. The results after 12 weeks have been excellent, but it is also about what happens next.

“Importantly, the signs so far show that six months on participants are continuing to incorporate the healthy eating and physical activity lessons they have learned into their daily lives.”

Billy Singh, General Manager of the SPL Trust, said: “We are delighted with the impact that Football Fans in Training has in encouraging men to lead healthier lives. Having spoken with many of the participants involved, there is clear recognition that the draw of their local SPL club was huge and this influenced them taking part in the programme.”

Jon Sheehy, Director of The Football Pools said: “The Football Pools is pleased to be involved in the development and funding of Football Fans in Training. It is great to see that this has given rise to additional funding being generated for such an important project supporting men's health through the power of football.”

Background information

Football Fans in Training

Supporters can find out more by calling 0800 389 2129, texting FFIT to 88802 or emailing ffit@sphsu.mrc.ac.uk.

The programme is open to 35-65 year old men who meet any of the following criteria:

  • BMI of 28 +         
  • Belly 40 inches +        
  • Trouser waist size of 38 inches +

First Block of Football Fans in Training Report:

  • 355 men enrolled in September 2010.
  • Participants lost an average of 4.9% of their start weight.
  • Participants lost a total of 1,202 kg in weight and 1,142 cm around their waists.

Scottish Premier League Trust

  • The Scottish Premier League Trust is the charitable arm of the SPL
  • Established in December 2009, the SPL Trust aims to develop partnerships with key agencies, such as UK and Scottish Government, local councils and other public and private interests to deliver centrally co‐ordinated projects at all SPL clubs.
  • The SPL Trust launched the Future Jobs Fund in March 2010, to create 432 six month job placements at SPL clubs for the long-term unemployed and Football Fans in Training in August 2010 to tackle obesity and encourage healthy lifestyles amongst fans of SPL clubs.

Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence
The University of Stirling is designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and is home to an unrivalled selection of world-class sports facilities, with national centres in a number of sports and one of the longest running International Sports Scholarship Programmes in the UK. We bring together a critical mass of knowledge, sports agencies, governing bodies and leading academic researchers on our scenic campus, all characterised by excellence.

Medical Research Council
For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk

For more information, contact:

Scottish Premier League Trust
Billy Singh, 0141 620 4144, spltrust@scotprem.com

University of Stirling
David Christie, 01786 466 653, david.christie1@stir.ac.uk

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