Football can change lives. Europeans have a deep attachment to football and to their top clubs. Each week, across Europe, around 20.2 million people attend matches in the top 50 leagues. They celebrate or despair as their club rises or falls through league tables; their allegiance to their team is often lifelong and cross-generational.

EuroFIT’s social innovation is to harness the personal connection, loyalty and attachment many men feel to football and their club to attract them to health-promoting lifestyle change programmes that they might otherwise dismiss. EuroFIT will develop, deliver and validate programmes to engage middle-aged men at increased risk of poor health to make sustainable improvements to their physical activity, sedentary behaviour and diet. . 

Our scientific innovation is to bring together cutting-edge developments from a range of scientific disciplines and address the low reach of traditional lifestyle programmes into socially disadvantaged groups to tackle Europe’s most important and intransigent public health problems: low levels of physical activity, high levels of sedentary behaviour, and poor diet.

Our project has six central features. First, we use the allegiance that many men, including those of low socioeconomic status (SES), feel to their football clubs to attract them to healthy lifestyle programmes delivered within professional football club stadia. Second, we apply state-of-the-art theory and evidence on motivating and maintaining behavioural change in a technology-supported, culturally- and gender- sensitive, lifestyle programme to improve health. Third, we develop low-cost, advanced sensors that can simultaneously monitor both activity and sedentary behaviour to provide real-time feedback and enhanced motivation for change. Fourth, we use social media, games-based social interaction, group- and family- support and specific behaviour change techniques to enhance intrinsic motivation to support change in the long-term. Fifth, we use the gold-standard evaluation design – the randomised controlled trial – to provide robust evidence of cost-effectiveness. Sixth, we deliver every aspect of the project with the aim of widespread replication – our aim is to make tangible changes to people’s lives and health across Europe.

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Prof Shaun Treweek;