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Rugby Fans in Training New Zealand (RUFIT NZ): a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of a healthy lifestyle program for overweight men delivered through professional rugby clubs

journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-17, 00:29 authored by Ralph MaddisonRalph Maddison, EA Hargreaves, Y Jiang, AJ Calder, S Wyke, CM Gray, K Hunt, DR Lubans, H Eyles, N Draper, I Heke, S Kara, G Sundborn, C Arandjus, L Gao, P Lee, M Lim, S Marsh
BACKGROUND: A healthy lifestyle program that appeals to, and supports, overweight and obese New Zealand (NZ) European, Māori (indigenous) and Pasifika men to achieve weight loss is urgently needed. A pilot program inspired by the successful Football Fans in Training program but delivered via professional rugby clubs in NZ (n = 96) was shown to be effective in weight loss, adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors, and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight and obese men. A full effectiveness trial is now needed. AIMS: To determine the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Rugby Fans In Training-NZ (RUFIT-NZ) on weight loss, fitness, blood pressure, lifestyle change, and health related quality of life (HRQoL) at 12- and 52-weeks. METHODS: We conducted a pragmatic, two-arm, multi-center, randomized controlled trial in NZ with 378 (target 308) overweight and obese men aged 30-65 years, randomized to an intervention group or wait-list control group. The 12-week RUFIT-NZ program was a gender-sensitised, healthy lifestyle intervention delivered through professional rugby clubs. Each intervention session included: i) a 1-h workshop-based education component focused on nutrition, physical activity, sleep, sedentary behavior, and learning evidence-based behavior change strategies for sustaining a healthier lifestyle; and 2) a 1-h group-based, but individually tailored, exercise training session. The control group were offered RUFIT-NZ after 52-weeks. The primary outcome was change in body weight from baseline to 52-weeks. Secondary outcomes included change in body weight at 12-weeks, waist circumference, blood pressure, fitness (cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal), lifestyle behaviors (leisure-time physical activity, sleep, smoking status, and alcohol and dietary quality), and health-related quality of life at 12- and 52-weeks. RESULTS: Our final analysis included 200 participants (intervention n = 103; control n = 97) who were able to complete the RUFIT-NZ intervention prior to COVID-19 restrictions. At 52-weeks, the adjusted mean group difference in weight change (primary outcome) was -2.77 kg (95% CI -4.92 to -0.61), which favored the intervention group. The intervention also resulted in favorable significant differences in weight change and fruit and vegetable consumption at 12-weeks; and waist circumference, fitness outcomes, physical activity levels, and health-related quality of life at both 12 and 52 weeks. No significant intervention effects were observed for blood pressure, or sleep. Incremental cost-effective ratios estimated were $259 per kg lost, or $40,269 per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained. CONCLUSION: RUFIT-NZ resulted in sustained positive changes in weight, waist circumference, physical fitness, self-reported physical activity, selected dietary outcomes, and health-related quality of life in overweight/obese men. As such, the program should be recommended for sustained delivery beyond this trial, involving other rugby clubs across NZ. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12619000069156. Registered 18 January 2019, Universal Trial Number, U1111-1245-0645.



The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity



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