The Premier League made an individual pledge as part of the Responsibility Deal to promote healthier lifestyles and increase levels of physical activity amongst male football fans through their three year, £1.63m Premier League Health (PLH) programme, which ended in summer 2012.
16 clubs bid for and received funding to run schemes tackling multiple behavioural factors affecting health in a ‘male friendly’ environment, capitalising on their appeal as professional clubs to recruit and motivate participants.
Liverpool Football Club, for example, designed a PLH scheme to reach men aged 18-35 living in areas of high deprivation in North Liverpool with the aim of reducing coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and increasing life expectancy. Sessions were held at community venues and delivered by an NHS Health Trainer seconded to the Club.
One community centre manager reported:
“The fact that they [the NHS Health Trainer] are sitting there in a [Liverpool FC] tracksuit really does attract the guys over to him. They managed to get guys to agree their health plans that the rest of the Health Trainer team would not be able to do. There are not many agencies that can walk into North Liverpool and say ‘I want a group of 18 year old lads.’ We got 20 of them and kept them for the full course.”
Over 10,000 men participated in the programme which was externally validated by Leeds Metropolitan University. It saw positive health outcomes across a range of indicators with three quarters of participants making at least one positive health change including:
- over 40% who improved their level of physical activity;
- 40% who reduced their risk from sedentary behaviour;
- 30% making improvements to their diet; and
- 30% of those who were exceeding the alcohol recommendations meeting the guidelines post-intervention.