A Darlington football club that encourages overweight and obese men to get fit and adopt healthy lifestyle choices has helped local men lose over 250 pounds of excess weight since its launch.

Man v Fat Football Darlington takes place every Wednesday evening at the Education Village Academy Trust on Salters Lane, with 30 men currently take part in the club.

The programme’s organisers have extended an invitation to potential new players, who may wish to make a positive change to their lifestyle through the football-based programme.

Public Health England (PHE) data published in April 2023 suggests that around 70 per cent of adults in the Darlington council area are overweight or obese.

The Northern Echo: Overweight men in Darlington are encouraged to give football a go at the Education Village on Salters Lane to shift some unhealthy weight while having a laugh. Picture: MAN V FATOverweight men in Darlington are encouraged to give football a go at the Education Village on Salters Lane to shift some unhealthy weight while having a laugh. Picture: MAN V FAT (Image: MAN V FAT)

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This places Darlington among the top 30 hotspots for adult obesity out of the 150 English councils and unitary authorities tracked by Public Health England.

Recent research from the National Food Strategy review estimates that every unit of body mass index put on by every individual raises the UK’s annual healthcare costs by £16.

Man v Fat Football Darlington coach, Ian McGee, said: “We’re so proud of the progress made by the players and the wider team at our Darlington club.

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“The men involved are genuinely changing their lives for the better by improving their physical and mental health, while making new friends and having fun in the process.

“Man v Fat isn’t a lose-fat-fast programme, we encourage body positivity and losing weight at a healthy, sustainable pace.

“While weight loss is the key goal for players, the programme is perfect for men who want to get back into playing football after a period of time away from the game and improve their fitness gradually.

“We’re looking for new players to join our club, so if you think Man v Fat might be for you, get in touch at - www.manvfatfootball.org/darlington” 

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Aimed at men with a BMI of higher than 27.5, Man v Fat Football has more than 8,000 players taking part in over 150 clubs across the UK.

The programme was created by Andrew Shanahan, who, fed-up with traditional weight loss classes primarily aimed at women, decided to develop a programme that combines the beautiful game with achievable weight loss goals for men.

The total amount of weight lost by Man v Fat players in the UK currently stands at over 550,000 pounds.

Before matches, players are weighed, this is followed by a 30-minute game of six-a-side football, with extra goal bonuses awarded to teams based on their weight loss.

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Weight loss and match scores then contribute to teams’ league positions within a club.

In addition to football sessions, Man v Fat players also receive off-the-pitch support including healthy meal recipe ideas and tips on general fitness.

Players also get full access to Man v Fat online gym, so they can train in their own time at home.