A pie and pint at the match off the menu!

PIC: PA
PIC: PA
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GPs could be encouraged to refer overweight football fans to a training scheme at their club to help them get fit after a pilot scheme at Blackpool FC.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said commissioners should consider enabling GPs to refer supporters to the scheme.

He said: “Obesity is a public health emergency and tackling it needs to be a team effort.

“Football clubs are the centre of communities across England and working with them to encourage fans to get fit is a great idea that can produce real results.”

He was speaking about the Football Fans in Training (FFIT) programme, which sees overweight men coached for 12 weeks at their team’s home ground and as the NHS prepares to publish its Long Term Plan which will have a renewed focus on illness prevention.

Mr Stevens suggested that “commissioners should consider whether schemes like this can help patients live fitter, healthier lives - and take pressure off on NHS services”.

The programme - currently available in England at Swindon Town, Wycombe Wanderers, Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Charlton Athletic - was first run in Scotland.

Clubs put on a three-month sports and exercise course, and give healthy eating advice. The Swindon FC scheme saw 30 men lose more than 40 stone in weight, according to NHS England.

Local NHS services are also working with the Widnes Vikings rugby team to help children exercise, with coaching by rugby players. Mr Stevens said that rolling out the scheme in England will help cut Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related problems.