ST Helens fitness focused footballers shed 450 pounds of unhealthy weight in twelve months, with help MAN v FAT healthy lifestyle programme.

A St Helens football club that encourages overweight and obese men to get fit and adopt healthy lifestyle choices has helped 90 men lose over 450 pounds in excess weight in the last twelve months.

MAN v FAT St Helens takes place every Monday evening at St Cuthbert's Catholic High School on Berrys Lane.

More information about how to sign-up can be found here:

According to Public Health England, 71.3 per cent of adults in St Helens are overweight or obese, placing the area among the top 15 council areas in England for adult obesity.

MAN v FAT Football currently has 8,200 players taking part in more than 150 leagues 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 more than 650,000 pounds. It is aimed at men with a BMI of higher than 27.5.

At sessions, 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. A team’s total weight loss and match scores then contribute to their league position within a club.

In February 2023, when Stephen McConville, MAN v FAT St Helens’ Assistant Coach went for routine blood tests, he was told his blood sugar levels were high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

He needed to make a drastic change and joined the local MAN v FAT club that night after seeing a Facebook advert. His first game was on February 13th, 2023.

In that time, he has gone from a starting weight of 112.8Kg to his current weight of 83.6Kg, a total loss of 29.2Kg – or 4 Stone 8 lbs. He has 3.2kg to lose to reach a weight that would take him below a 25 BMI.

Stephen attributes the impact to social interaction with people who all want the same goal, he explains: “Everyone is there to lose weight, so there’s no stigmatism in talking about a subject that men don’t usually do.

"Everyone in the social media groups, WhatsApp groups and in person are happy to discuss diets, and other issues etc. MAN v FAT has helped make some massive, positive changes to my life.

"I’ve gone from playing no football at all, to playing up to three games a week. I was lasting 10 minutes in my first game, now an hour on the pitch doesn’t give me any issues.

“I’ve also started jogging too. I’m now also assistant coach at St Helens MAN v FAT helping weigh in and deliver sessions where needed. I’ve helped at Warrington too. I’m now also a qualified FA Referee involved in grassroots football and MAN v FAT at other locations, as well as being a qualified football coach.”

James Savage, a player at the St Helens club who has lost over five stone with the help of the programme says: “I was always a bigger person, but during Covid I relocated for work and my weight spiralled to nearly 19 stone.

"Then, due to personal circumstances, I moved back home after being away for a year and realised my mental and physical health were at an all-time low.

"I would be out of breath walking any distance and it was a genuine struggle to do simple tasks, I pulled a muscle in my back and leg on a couple of occasions just tying my shoelaces.

“MAN v FAT sounded like the perfect way to meet likeminded people and get back to playing football at whatever level I could. Two years later and I am playing four times a week, including regular 11 aside football, and going on daily walks to keep myself active.”

James says that MAN v FAT removes the taboo men feel about talking about weight loss.

“Now, talking about eating well and losing weight feels like the most natural thing in the world. It makes it a lot easier to realise there are so many other men going through the same as you.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say MAN v FAT has absolutely changed my life, not only physically but mentally as well. Having tried every diet in the past, I realised none suited me or the lifestyle I wanted, so I had to re-evaluate my whole relationship with food. For the past two and a half years at MAN v FAT, I haven’t “dieted” once and I go out with friends most weekends for food and still enjoy myself.”

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.