There’s a special football league in England dedicated to helping men keep up their weight-loss resolutions each year. Aptly named ‘Man v Fat’, the league caters exclusively to overweight men with a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. Teams win points for matches won, as well as pounds lost during the 14-week competition.
Based in Solihull, in the West Midlands, the league was started two years ago by 37-year-old Andrew Shanahan. Andrew said he came up with the idea because he was sick of traditional weight-loss classes filled with women. “There was no help for me, and all the classes seemed tailored to women’s needs. I remember going to a Weight Watchers meeting and I was the only guy there. It was embarrassing and I was so out of my depth. The leader was talking about when you’re on your period you can go up or down in weight and I just thought, that’s not my issue. That’s really not what’s affecting me.”
“I started Man v Fat because I was morbidly obese and experienced first-hand the difficulties men face during weight loss,” he said. “I was 17 stone in 2013 and now I’m just over 12 stone, but I was shocked at how little support blokes get for weight loss.”
“That’s why men fail,” he explained. “Blokes think if they are going to lose weight they need to run a marathon or do some Spartan event. That is the wrong path. You should change how you eat, change your attitude to your lifestyle. And you need support. I thought, why not get people together in person having a kickabout?”
So Man v Fat, a free program, was started with funds collected through a crowdfunding campaign in January 2014, supported by the local council, major weight loss organizations, and celebrities like Jamie Oliver. The league now has 40,000 members, with teams like XL Legends, Beer Bellies United, Phoenix XXXL, and Inter Pies.
“We’re working with ordinary guys who are BMI 30 plus, and we’re helping them to lose weight in sensible, normal ways through supporting them with what they’re eating and organising activities that they’re interested in doing,” Andrew said. “67 percent of men are overweight and they’re ashamed they’ve let themselves go, so give up football,” he said. “A lot of men want to get back into sport but it’s intimidating because clubs only tend to have one fat bloke on their team.”
Seats filled up rather quickly on Monday night for the first matches of Man v Fat Leisure League, which saw around 90 overweight men take to the field to score some goals and lose some pounds for their teams. It was a promising start to a very interesting weight-losing program.
According to Stephen Munday, head of Public Health at Solihull Council, the Man v Fat is a great initiative because it’s hard for men to find weight-loss support groups that actually interest them. “There is a national concern for obesity but it mostly centers around women and children,” he said. “This initiative is really exciting and something the council are fully behind.”
via The Star