The EFL Trust’s FIT FANS programme, which has helped over 1,000 fans to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, has won a prestigious national award.
The 12-week healthy lifestyle programme, which is run by over 30 EFL clubs, has been awarded the Leaders in Sports Community Award. The awards showcase the most innovative organisations and people driving the sports industry forward.
FIT FANS is a lifestyle behaviour change programme for overweight and obese football supporters which is tackling the growing national issue of obesity. By 2022 it estimated that 40% of British people will be overweight or obese. The programme uses the unique pull of football clubs to reach fans, to bring people together to improve lifestyle behaviours and reduce weight, waistline and blood pressure.
FIT FANS was originally developed in Scotland by Glasgow University and SPFL Trust as Football Fans in Training. The programme attracts adults aged 35-65 and is delivered by coaching staff at their local football club charity. It is known locally as FIT BORO, FIT PILGRIMS, FIT RAMS and FIT OWLS . to appeal to fans using the club nickname. It uses tried-and-tested behaviour change techniques, peer support and creates social bonds that last.
Funded by £2.25m from the National Lottery, FIT FANS is initially supporting people in 30 localities with the highest rates of adult obesity and type 2 diabetes and aims to:
- Improve eating habits
- Help people achieve at least 45 minutes of moderate intensity activity most days
- Include regular self-monitoring of weight and pedometer step counts, creating behaviour change for the future.
January 2020 saw the nationwide roll-out of the programme in England. In the first cohort of 1,000 starters 70% completed the programme. Of the participants who were able to provide end measurements in lockdown (these would normally be taken at the Club) 93% had lost weight and 94% had reduced their waist measurement. On average the first cohort lost an impressive 7.2kg and reduced their waist line by 8.9cm.
The first cohort of FIT FANS were at risk of having their 12-week programme reduced due to COVID-19. However, FIT FANS Clubs adapted quickly, continuing to work with the teams remotely. With obesity being a major risk factor for COVID-19 the programme is set to play an important role in the future health of many more fans across the country.