The EFL Trust’s vision is to create stronger, healthier, more active communities.
FIT FANS was originally developed in Scotland by Glasgow University and SPFL Trust as Football Fans in Training. The EFL Trust introduced FIT FANS to improve people’s health in the communities in which we operate by harnessing the unique assets of network and the affinity people feel towards their club, to bring people together to improve lifestyle behaviours and reduce weight, waistline and blood pressure.
By 2022 40% of British people will be overweight or obese. With our unrivalled reach to football supporters, many of whom aren’t inclined to access NHS services, we have great potential to create change. Our FIT FANS programme is an evidence based gender-sensitive lifestyle behaviour change intervention for overweight and obese football supporters. FIT FANS attracts adults aged 35-65 to a 13 week healthy lifestyle multi component programme delivered by coaching staff at their local football club charity. It is known locally as FIT ALBION, FIT UNITED etc. 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 the first cohort, c.70% of the 1,000 starters 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. From an average male start weight of 110.4kg, waist measurement of 117.8cm and BMI of 35.4, we have seen average weight loss of 7.2kg, waist reduction of 8.9cm, and reduction in BMI of 2.3.
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. Our ambition is to make FIT FANS as widely available as possible across communities. As longer term changes brought about by COVID-19 become clearer, this will include adaptation of the programme, making sure our communities can access FIT FANS however suits them.