£5 million for European Football Fans to get Fit

Over £5 million has been awarded to an eleven strong consortium, led by the University of Glasgow, to develop and evaluate a European wide programme to help male football fans become more active, less sedentary and improve their diets in a sustainable way. 

Twenty million fans attend top division football games each week across Europe and many more watch on TV. A new EU-funded Health project will work with top football clubs from across the continent to encourage fans to take up healthier lifestyles. The project, called ‘EuroFIT’ will attract men to lifestyle change through the personal connection and loyalty to the team they support.  Groups of football fans will be encouraged to take part in a tailored fitness and lifestyle programme with their own football club, receiving tips about how to boost their exercise, sit down less and improve their diets.‌

The project is building on the successful Football Fans in Training model which has run for three seasons in Scotland.  The model seeks to encourage healthy weight loss and fitness that can be sustained over the long term.  In the 2010-11 season alone, 412 men shed 2,300kg of weight and lost 2400 cm from their collective waist measurements.  In Scotland, the programme is run in partnership with the Scottish SPFL.

Professor Sally Wyke, Principal Investigator and Deputy Director, Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow said: “We know that men, particularly, are much less likely than women to use existing opportunities for lifestyle change.  Football is a real draw for many men, and increasingly also for female supporters. The commitment many feel to their clubs and the opportunity to train with other fans to be healthier is a real bonus for them.  This project is extremely exciting and ambitious  - it could be adapted for all sorts of other groups, and lead to positive lifestyle changes in men, their families and wider social networks across Europe”.

Football fans will take part in an interactive programme led by coaches in the participating football clubs, and held in club grounds.  Technological developments will be used to provide continous feedback for monitoring progress which will help keep men motivated and active.  This includes the new SitFIT™, being developed by Glasgow-based PAL Technologies Ltd which will monitor how much time you spend sitting and how much time is spent moving around. 

The researchers will evaluate EuroFIT in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial in top professional football clubs across the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, to verify its impact on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, physical and mental health.

EuroFIT is funded by the the European Union's 7th Research Framework Programme.  It is supported by several leading professional football clubs including Arsenal, Benfica and FC Porto. ‌

 


For more information contact Cara MacDowall, cara.macdowall@glasgow.ac.uk or call 0141 330 3683

Notes to editors:

 The full partners in the EuroFIT programme are University of Glasgow UK (Programme Co-ordinators); PAL Technologies Ltd, UK; European Healthy Stadia Network CIC Ltd, UK; VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam, Netherlands; Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands; Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway; University of Lisbon, Portugal; Pintail Ltd, Ireland, University of Aberdeen, UK, University of Edinburgh, UK and Univeristy of Dundee, UK.

First published: 16 October 2013

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