Football 'can tackle male obesity'

Overweight footballer Football helped men lose weight and keep it off

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Football participation is a good way to get men to slim down, a Scottish study published in The Lancet shows.

Some 374 overweight soccer fans were invited to take part in a 12-week programme of training sessions at their local football club.

A year later, the men had lost and kept off about 11lb (5kg) each compared with 374 overweight fans put on a waiting list for the programme.

The Glasgow researchers say it proves male-friendly weight loss plans work.

All 748 men in the study were offered healthy-eating advice and tips on weight management, but only half were invited to professional football clubs for weekly training sessions.

Thirteen clubs took part: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Dunfermline Athletic, Hamilton Academical, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Rangers, St Johnstone and St Mirren.

As well as losing weight when they were on the 12-week programme, nearly 40% of men who participated in the programme maintained a weight loss of at least 5% of their original body weight 12 months later.

Co-author Prof Kate Hunt, from Glasgow University, said: "Weight management and dieting are often wrongly viewed as women's issues, meaning that some men do not want to take part in existing weight management programmes."

But given the right circumstances, men are also keen to slim, she says.

"Participants really enjoyed being with other men like them, with a shared interest in football and similar health issues to address. They loved having the opportunity to spend time at the club, using parts of the stadium that they couldn't ordinarily access.

"And they appreciated the chance to be encouraged, trained, and informed by the club's coaches. This model has real potential for the future."

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