Reducing sitting time as well as increasing physical activity in inactive people is beneficial for their health. Today we published an Article in PLoS Medicine about the effects of the European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) programme to improve physical activity and sedentary time in male football fans, delivered through the professional football setting. A total of 1,113 men aged 30–65 with self-reported body mass index (BMI) ≥27 kg/m2 took part in a randomised controlled trial in 15 professional football clubs in England, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. EuroFIT is a 12-week, group-based programme delivered by coaches in football club stadia in 12 weekly 90-minute sessions. Weekly sessions aimed to improve physical activity, sedentary time, and diet and maintain changes long term. A pocket-worn device (SitFIT) allowed self-monitoring of sedentary time and daily steps, and a game-based app (MatchFIT) encouraged between-session social support. The study showed a baseline-adjusted mean difference in sedentary time at 12 months of −1.6 minutes/day (97.5% confidence interval [CI], −14.3–11.0; p = 0.77) and in step counts of 678 steps/day (97.5% CI, 309–1.048; p < 0.001) in favor of the intervention. There were significant improvements in diet, weight, well-being, self-esteem, vitality, and biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in favor of the intervention group, but not in quality of life. Men attracted to the programme already had quite high levels of physical activity at baseline (8,372 steps/day), which may have limited room for improvement. In conclusion, participation in EuroFIT led to improvements in physical activity, diet, body weight, and biomarkers of cardiometabolic health, but not in sedentary time at 12 months. Within-trial analysis suggests it is not cost-effective in the short term for QALYs due to a ceiling effect in quality of life. Nevertheless, decision-makers may consider the incremental cost for increase in steps worth the investment.
EuroFIT participants also showed improvements in diet, body weight, indicators of cardiometabolic health, well-being, and other secondary outcomes.
EuroFIT was not cost-effective in the short term because there were no differences in quality of life because, on the measure we used, participants already had high levels of quality of life at baseline.
Gender-sensitised lifestyle programmes delivered in professional football clubs have shown great promise in Europe and could play an important public health role in engaging underserved men.
Changing time spent sedentary proved difficult. Future lifestyle intervention studies should attempt to ensure that participants understand the distinction between being more physically active and spending more time upright
Sally Wyke et al. The effect of a programme to improve men’s sedentary time and physical activity: The European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) randomised controlled trial. PLoS Medicine. February 5, 2019