Citation Maddison R, Hargreaves EA, Wyke S, Gray CM, Hunt K, Heke IJ, Kara S, Ni Mhurchu C, Jull A, Jiang Y, Sundborn G & Marsh S (2019) Rugby Fans in Training New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ): a pilot randomized controlled trial of a healthy lifestyle program for overweight men delivered through professional rugby clubs in New Zealand. BMC Public Health, 19, Art. No.: 166. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6472-3
Healthy lifestyle programs that are designed specifically to appeal to and support men to improve lifestyle behaviors and lose weight are needed. The Rugby Fans in Training-New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ) program is delivered by professional rugby clubs and inspired by the successful Football Fans In Training program (FFIT), a gender sensitized weight loss program for obese middle-aged men delivered by professional football clubs in Scotland. RUFIT-NZ required development and evaluation for feasibility.
To develop the intervention we reviewed content from the FFIT program and evidence-based physical activity, dietary and weight management guidelines, and undertook a series of focus groups and key informant interviews. We then evaluated the feasibility of the intervention in a two-arm, parallel, pilot randomized controlled trial in New Zealand. Ninety-six participants were randomized to either the 12-week RUFIT-NZ intervention (N = 49) or a control group (N = 47). The intervention was delivered through professional rugby clubs and involved physical activity training and classroom sessions on healthy lifestyle behaviors. Pilot trial outcomes included body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and lifestyle behaviors. Feasibility was assessed by recruitment and retention rates, and acceptability of the intervention.
At 12 weeks the mean difference in body weight was 2.5 kg (95% CI -0.4 to 5.4), which favored the intervention. Statistically significant differences in favor of the intervention group were also observed for waist circumference, resting heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the proportion of participants that were adherent to 3 or more healthy lifestyle behaviors. The intervention was considered feasible to test in a full trial given the good recruitment and retention rates, and positive feedback from participants.
A pilot study of a healthy lifestyle intervention delivered via professional rugby clubs in New Zealand demonstrated positive effects on weight and physiological outcomes, as well as adherence to lifestyle behaviors. Feasibility issues in terms of recruitment, retention, and participant acceptability were assessed and findings will be used to inform the design of a definitive trial.
The trial was prospectively registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12616000137493, 05/12/2016.