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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Rugby Fans in Training New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ): a pilot randomized controlled trial of a healthy lifestyle program for overweight men delivered through professional rugby clubs in New Zealand
Author(s): Maddison, Ralph
Hargreaves, Elaine Anne
Wyke, Sally
Gray, Cindy M
Hunt, Kate
Heke, Ihirangi Justin
Kara, Stephen
Ni Mhurchu, Cliona
Jull, Andrew
Jiang, Yannan
Sundborn, Gerhard
Marsh, Samantha
Keywords: Physical activity
Weight management
Men’s health
Lifestyle intervention
Professional sports clubs
Issue Date: Dec-2019
Citation: Maddison R, Hargreaves EA, Wyke S, Gray CM, Hunt K, Heke IJ, Kara S, Ni Mhurchu C, Jull A, Jiang Y, Sundborn G & Marsh S (2019) Rugby Fans in Training New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ): a pilot randomized controlled trial of a healthy lifestyle program for overweight men delivered through professional rugby clubs in New Zealand. BMC Public Health, 19, Art. No.: 166.
Abstract: Background Healthy lifestyle programs that are designed specifically to appeal to and support men to improve lifestyle behaviors and lose weight are needed. The Rugby Fans in Training-New Zealand (RUFIT-NZ) program is delivered by professional rugby clubs and inspired by the successful Football Fans In Training program (FFIT), a gender sensitized weight loss program for obese middle-aged men delivered by professional football clubs in Scotland. RUFIT-NZ required development and evaluation for feasibility. Methods To develop the intervention we reviewed content from the FFIT program and evidence-based physical activity, dietary and weight management guidelines, and undertook a series of focus groups and key informant interviews. We then evaluated the feasibility of the intervention in a two-arm, parallel, pilot randomized controlled trial in New Zealand. Ninety-six participants were randomized to either the 12-week RUFIT-NZ intervention (N = 49) or a control group (N = 47). The intervention was delivered through professional rugby clubs and involved physical activity training and classroom sessions on healthy lifestyle behaviors. Pilot trial outcomes included body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and lifestyle behaviors. Feasibility was assessed by recruitment and retention rates, and acceptability of the intervention. Results At 12 weeks the mean difference in body weight was 2.5 kg (95% CI -0.4 to 5.4), which favored the intervention. Statistically significant differences in favor of the intervention group were also observed for waist circumference, resting heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the proportion of participants that were adherent to 3 or more healthy lifestyle behaviors. The intervention was considered feasible to test in a full trial given the good recruitment and retention rates, and positive feedback from participants. Conclusions A pilot study of a healthy lifestyle intervention delivered via professional rugby clubs in New Zealand demonstrated positive effects on weight and physiological outcomes, as well as adherence to lifestyle behaviors. Feasibility issues in terms of recruitment, retention, and participant acceptability were assessed and findings will be used to inform the design of a definitive trial. Trial registration The trial was prospectively registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12616000137493, 05/12/2016.
DOI Link: 10.1186/s12889-019-6472-3
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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