A ground-breaking study concludes that Premier League health scheme is as effective as a Wayne Rooney header in altering men’s high risk-taking behaviour.
One of the largest ever academic studies of men’s health in England has found that Premier League football clubs can have a powerful effect in changing the health of men, especially those regarded as hard-to-reach and whose lifestyle choices are leading to a substantial burden on NHS services.
The three-year Premier League Health initiative at 16 professional football clubs engages over 10,000 men. The research found that over 70% of them made positive health changes as a result and that football clubs can play an important role in addressing key areas of men’s health such as weight gain and alcohol consumption.
The Men's Health Forum helped establish the unique £1.63m three-year programme, the first national men’s health promotion initiative delivered by Premier League football clubs. The joint report by the Centre for Men’s Health and Centre for Active Lifestyles at Leeds Metropolitan University explored the power of professional football clubs to influence the health of men and found that all told three-quarters of men made positive health changes.
through participating in Premier League Health.
The study noted how top level football can encourage positive lifestyle changes in working age men and can deliver effective health promotion campaigns.
The MHF's chair, Professor Alan White of Leeds Metropolitan University, who conducted the research over the three years, said: 'Our findings suggest that a group of men who are traditionally seen as difficult to reach in health promoting activities will engage if it is done in a way that they can relate to, like football. The men really valued the opportunity to take part in activities that were not only fun but could also make them fitter and healthier. When we came to do the 12 week follow-up we were surprised at how many men had reduced their risk factors. This suggests that it is worth taking a more imaginative approach to public health.'
Alan's previous research has found that harmful lifestyle behaviours and poor socio-economic circumstances contribute to European men of working age having a 64% higher death rate than women. However, efforts to influence men’s ill-health are challenging and activities delivered through traditional channels often have limited effectiveness. It was this opportunity that Premier League Health explored.
Simon Morgan, Head of Community Development at the Premier League, said: 'The Premier League is the most watched and supported football league in the world and it plays an important role in embracing the local communities which are at the heart of our clubs. It’s about delivering social intervention programmes that make a positive difference to those people, and Premier League Health has done that with 10,000 men.
'The research by Leeds Metropolitan University has shown that Premier League clubs can engage with men to improve their lifestyles and that local NHS and public bodies should commission football clubs to deliver health services. Through the power of the badge and the quality of initiatives put on by the clubs there are long term benefits for men’s health in this country.'
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Page created on September 20th, 2012
Page updated on October 4th, 2012