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Funding boost for footy fans’ healthy habits program

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A Curtin University-led men’s health program, Aussie Fans in Training (Aussie-FIT), which uses a passion for AFL to keep men active and engaged, will now be able to expand thanks to a $1 million dollar funding boost by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Led by Associate Professor Eleanor Quested from Curtin’s enAble Institute and School of Population Health, the 12-week Aussie-FIT program is delivered in collaboration with football clubs, using their facilities and ‘behind the scenes experiences’, to help men at risk of or diagnosed with cardiovascular disease to learn skills to develop and maintain healthier habits, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, and being more active.

Curtin Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said the funding would help the program reach more men in Western Australia and around the country.

“This Heart Foundation Behaviour Change Strategic Grant is highly sought after and I congratulate both Associate Professor Quested and her collaborating partners for their involvement in this program,” Professor Moran said.

“With almost three out of four middle-aged Australian men living with overweight or obesity, this program and the insights gained could help address the important national health issue and social burden of cardiovascular disease.”

Associate Professor Eleanor Quested said the Heart Foundation grant will allow the team to both ‘scale-up’ the program to make it available through more WA football clubs and ‘scale out’ to reach male footy as well as rugby fans in other states, such as Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“We know from our Aussie-FIT pilot programs in Western Australia football settings with men ‘at risk’ of or diagnosed with cardiovascular disease that the program is relatively cheap to deliver, effective in attracting men, and shows promise as an approach to help men become more active, improve diet, manage their weight and improve mental health,” Associate Professor Quested said.

“This grant will allow us to expand and to further examine and test the longer-term effectiveness of the Aussie-FIT program.

“We also hope our research will identify how the Aussie-FIT concept can be adapted and maintained in different States and sport settings (e.g., rugby), set the stage for the development of Aussie-FIT programs for new populations (e.g., women and families), and be applied to break down barriers to participation in health behaviour change for men across Australia.”

The Aussie-FIT research team also includes Professor Andrew Maiorana, Curtin University, Professor James Smith, Flinders University, A/Professor Toby Pavey, Queensland University of Technology, Professor Graham Hillis, Royal Perth Hospital and Dr Tracy McCaffrey, Monash University.

Aussie-FIT partner organisations include Australian Football League – Northern Territory, West Australian Football Commission, Queensland Rugby League, Cancer Council WA (Live Lighter campaign) and Healthy Stadia.

For more on the Aussie-FIT program, please visit here.

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