A gender-sensitised weight loss and healthy living programme for overweight and obese men delivered by Scottish Premier League football clubs (FFIT): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial

Kate Hunt, Sally Wyke* (Corresponding Author), Cindy M Gray, Annie S Anderson, Adrian Brady, Christopher Bunn, Peter T Donnan, Elisabeth Fenwick, Eleanor Grieve, Jim Leishman, Euan Miller, Nanette Mutrie, Petra Rauchhaus, Alan White, Shaun Treweek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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BACKGROUND: The prevalence of male obesity is increasing but few men take part in weight loss programmes. We assessed the effect of a weight loss and healthy living programme on weight loss in football (soccer) fans.

METHODS: We did a two-group, pragmatic, randomised controlled trial of 747 male football fans aged 35-65 years with a body-mass index (BMI) of 28 kg/m(2) or higher from 13 Scottish professional football clubs. Participants were randomly assigned with SAS (version 9·2, block size 2-9) in a 1:1 ratio, stratified by club, to a weight loss programme delivered by community coaching staff in 12 sessions held every week. The intervention group started a weight loss programme within 3 weeks, and the comparison group were put on a 12 month waiting list. All participants received a weight management booklet. Primary outcome was mean difference in weight loss between groups at 12 months, expressed as absolute weight and a percentage of their baseline weight. Primary outcome assessment was masked. Analyses were based on intention to treat. The trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN32677491.

FINDINGS: 374 men were allocated to the intervention group and 374 to the comparison group. 333 (89%) of the intervention group and 355 (95%) of the comparison group completed 12 month assessments. At 12 months the mean difference in weight loss between groups, adjusted for baseline weight and club, was 4·94 kg (95% CI 3·95-5·94) and percentage weight loss, similarly adjusted, was 4·36% (3·64-5·08), both in favour of the intervention (p<0·0001). Eight serious adverse events were reported, five in the intervention group (lost consciousness due to drugs for pre-existing angina, gallbladder removal, hospital admission with suspected heart attack, ruptured gut, and ruptured Achilles tendon) and three in the comparison group (transient ischaemic attack, and two deaths). Of these, two adverse events were reported as related to participation in the programme (gallbladder removal and ruptured Achilles tendon).

INTERPRETATION: The FFIT programme can help a large proportion of men to lose a clinically important amount of weight; it offers one effective strategy to challenge male obesity.

FUNDING: Scottish Government and The UK Football Pools funded delivery of the programme through a grant to the Scottish Premier League Trust. The National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme funded the assessment (09/3010/06).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1221
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9924
Early online date21 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

We thank: the FFIT participants who took part in the research; the club coaches in the Scottish Premiere League (SPL) clubs (Aberdeen FC, Celtic FC, Dundee United FC, Dunfermline Athletic FC, Hamilton Academical FC, Heart of Midlothian FC, Hibernian FC, Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC, Kilmarnock FC, Motherwell FC, Rangers FC, St Johnstone FC, and St Mirren FC) who delivered the FFIT programme; and members of the survey office, fieldwork team leaders, and fieldworkers at Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow University, in particular Catherine Ferrell, Elaine Hindle, Alice Maclean, Alan Pollock, Mark Robinson, Susan Smillie, David Walker, and Karen Wood. We would particularly like to acknowledge present and former colleagues at the SPL Trust, now the SFPL Trust (Billy Singh, Mark Dunlop, and Stuart MacPhee) for their support in the development, delivery, and assessment of Football Fans in Training (FFIT); the UKCRN registered Tayside Clinical Trials Unit for support for data management; the Scottish Executive Health Department Chief Scientist Office for funding the feasibility pilot that preceded this randomised controlled trial (CZG/2/504); the Medical Research Council who funded KH and additional developmental research through the MRC/CSO SPHSU Gender and Health programme (5TK50/25605200-68094), and Sally Macintyre and Laurence Moore for comments on an earlier draft of the paper. Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR PHR Programme, the Department of Health, nor any of the other funders named above.


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Health Promotion
  • Healthy People Programs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Scotland
  • Soccer
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss


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