Louise Williams: The EFL Trust is proud to be part of tackling the nation’s obesity crisis

We know that in the UK, 63% of adults are overweight and that countries with high levels of overweight people, such as the UK, have seen the highest death rates from COVID-19 and we are encouraged to hear the announcement that the Government will be investing £100 million into tackling obesity and supporting people to lose weight.

The last 12 months have been a difficult time for those who are overweight. The emerging evidence that obesity and excess weight is a major risk factor of serious illness or death from COVID-19 while many weight management services were forced to stop, gyms and leisure facilities closed, and community support facilities temporarily paused has created an ongoing issue for individuals, local communities and the NHS.

At the EFL Trust, we recognise this and as part of our ‘Stronger, Healthier, More Active Communities’ strategy we pledge to support people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, access the support they need, and enhance the quality of life for those living with health conditions such as obesity and obesity-related conditions like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

One of the ways we are currently achieving this is through our EFT Trust FIT FANS Programme. Currently being delivered across almost half of the EFL Trust network, FIT FANS uses interest in football to attract adults aged 35-65 to a 13-week healthy lifestyle programme delivered by coaching staff at their local professional football club charity. Despite the disruption of the past 12 months, we have seen some staggering outcomes in terms of improvements in weight loss, physical activity, diet and psychological wellbeing.

  • Over 1,600 individuals have accessed the programme
  • Average weight loss for males in our first cohort was 6.2kg with 17% moving to the BMI weight classification below, significantly reducing their risk of obesity related conditions
  • These results were also reflected in the female cohort where we see 24% achieve a clinically significant weight loss of at least 5% of their starting weight
  • Inactivity in males shifted from 42% to 15% and in females from 47% to just 13%.

It is an aspiration of the EFL Trust to see this programme delivered across the whole of our network, which will enable us to reach millions of people who would benefit from making a positive change towards a healthier lifestyle and decreasing their risk of poor health and in turn reducing the burden on our NHS and health services.

The next cohorts of FIT FANS is due to commence this spring, to find out if your local club is involved or to find out more about the programme please visit https://www.efltrust.com/fitfans/