Successful study in Denmark boosts global implementation of FIFA’s health initiative

Representatives from the University of Copenhagen, the Danish FA and the Municipality of Frederiksberg have presented very encouraging results from the first pilot study of the 'FIFA 11 for Health' in a European country. The programme, which was initiated in Africa, has been adapted to respond to the needs of a European society by focusing on non-communicable diseases. The study in Denmark showed that it can be used effectively to increase physical activity, wellbeing and health knowledge of children while also providing direct positive effects on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

The presentation of the results by Prof. Peter Krustrup from the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports of the University of Copenhagen was followed by the demonstration of a 'FIFA 11 for Health' session with 25 children and two school teachers.

After this successful test phase, the 'FIFA 11 for Health' will be implemented nationwide in Denmark starting from August 2016, with a total of 400 schools participating over a two-year period, reaching 30,000 children, and a pilot project in Greenland and on the Faroe Islands was announced. A full-time project leader has been appointed and will be funded by FIFA and the Danish FA.

“I’m happy to observe the scientific evidence that the programme, which was initiated in Africa and then modified for a new socio-cultural environment in Europe, has proved to be efficient not only in terms of health knowledge, but also improved the cardiovascular function and health parameters of the children,” said FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak. "These results support the assumption that the 'FIFA 11 for Health' programme can be applied as a global initiative to contribute to the improvement of public health, as approved and supported by the FIFA Congress.

“The nationwide implementation of the programme in Denmark also demonstrates the commitment of the government to work closely with the Danish Football Association in tackling the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases among the general population, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure,“ he added.

Our study shows that the 'FIFA 11 for Health' programme has been successfully modified to meet the health challenges of the western world, and that the programme has wide benefits for health knowledge, social well-being and cardio-vascular fitness.

“Our study shows that the 'FIFA 11 for Health' programme has been successfully modified to meet the health challenges of the western world, and that the programme has wide benefits for health knowledge, social well-being and cardio-vascular fitness,” explained Prof. Peter Krustrup. “After 11 weeks with two weekly 45-minute sessions, health knowledge around physical activity, healthy diet, hygiene and well-being rose from 15 per cent to 21 per cent compared to the control group, along with decreases in fat percentage, body mass index and an impressive 4mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure.”

“A recent Danish state school reform introduced 45 minutes of compulsory physical activity every day, creating a demand for simple, evidence-based and implementable concepts to support physical activity, health, inclusion and learning. We have found that the 'FIFA 11 for Health' serves these aims,” added Prof. Krustrup.

“As president of the Danish FA, I am proud and satisfied that football can help to address challenges in the area of health, which is one of the goals of our new vision to be 'Part of Something Bigger',” said Jesper Moller. “Football can help to increase physical activity and well-being in children and enhance their ability to learn and get more out of the school day. This is at the core of the 'FIFA 11 for Health' programme, in which we aim to support the spread of football, both during and outside school hours. We are pleased with the collaboration and look forward to extending it both throughout Denmark and, later in the year, to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, along with other countries in our international partnerships.”

The detailed results of the pilot study in Denmark will be published this week in two scientific papers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.