Cindy M. Gray
Robert U. Newton, Edith Cowan UniversityFollow
Daniel F. Gucciardi
Jenny L. Olson
School of Medical and Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: Recent evidence shows that sport settings can act as a powerful draw to engage men in weight loss. The primary objective of this pilot study was to test the feasibility of delivering and to evaluate preliminary efficacy of Aussie-FIT, a weight-loss program for men with overweight/obesity delivered in Australian Football League (AFL) settings, in preparation for a future definitive trial. METHODS AND FINDINGS: This 6-month pilot trial took place in Perth, Australia. Participants were overweight/obese (Body Mass Index [BMI] ≥ 28 kg/m2), middle-aged (35-65 years old) men. Participants were recruited in May 2018, and the intervention took place between June and December 2018. The intervention involved 12 weekly 90-min face-to-face sessions, incorporating physical activity, nutrition, and behaviour change information and practical activities delivered by coaches at 2 clubs. Data were collected at baseline and immediately postintervention. For trial feasibility purposes, 6-month follow-ups were completed. Outcomes were differences in weight loss (primary outcome) and recruitment and retention rates, self-reported measures (for example, psychological well-being), device-measured physical activity, waist size, and blood pressure at 3 months. Within 3 days of advertising at each club, 426 men registered interest; 306 (72%) were eligible. Men were selected on a first-come first-served basis (n = 130; M age = 45.8, SD = 8; M BMI = 34.48 kg/m2, SD = 4.87) and randomised by a blinded researcher. Trial retention was 86% and 63% at 3- and 6-month follow-ups (respectively). No adverse events were reported. At 3 months, mean difference in weight between groups, adjusted for baseline weight and group, was 3.3 kg (95% CI 1.9, 4.8) in favour of the intervention group (p < 0.001). The intervention group's moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was higher than the control group by 8.54 min/day (95% CI 1.37, 15.71, p = 0.02). MVPA among men attracted to Aussie-FIT was high at baseline (intervention arm 35.61 min/day, control arm 38.38 min/day), which may have limited the scope for improvement. CONCLUSIONS: Aussie-FIT was feasible to deliver; participants increased physical activity, decreased weight, and reported improvements in other outcomes. Issues with retention were a limitation of this trial. In a future, fully powered randomised controlled trial (RCT), retention could be improved by conducting assessments outside of holiday seasons. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12617000515392.
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