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Man v Fat football tackling obesity

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  • Dave and Dan have lost 15 stone between them via Man v Fat football
  • It's been backed by Jamie Oliver and innumerable health organisations
  • Matches are decided on goals scored and pounds lost

“My doctor told me I’d be dead within ten years,” Dave Oh, 46, told FIFA.com. “I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and fatty liver. I was at big risk of heart disease.

“I’ve always been big, but while I was living in Hong Kong, my diet was terrible and I ballooned to 132kg (almost 21 stone). I’d moved back to England and I remember travelling to New York. When you’re obese, you’re embarrassed on a day-to-day basis, but this occasion I remember feeling particularly embarrassed by the holiday photos and by struggling to fit into my seat on the plane.

“I saw an advert for Man v Fat football on social media and said, ‘I’m doing it’. I’ve always loved football. I’m a huge Liverpool fan, loved watching John Barnes while I was growing up, and I was chairman of the Hong Kong Expatriate Liverpool Supporters’ Club.

“I was a little nervous and embarrassed going to Man v Fat for the first time, but it was the best decision I could have made. Everybody was in the same boat, or had been, and were so welcoming.

“You get put on a team. Results are decided not only by goals, but also my how many pounds players have lost. So you could win 4-2 on goals, but end up losing 6-4 if you’ve all had a bad week dieting. It inspires you to do well. You don’t want to let your team-mates down by eating too much bad food.

“We have a WhatsApp group. If someone’s had a bad week, we all spur them on to do better. People put healthy-meal recipes in there. And of course we’re always talking about football. It’s a real family.

“My health is now great. I’ve lost 82lbs. I feel great. I can do a lot more with my kids. Man V Fat has changed my life.”

Man v Fat was created by journalist and entrepreneur Andrew Shanahan, for “normal blokes who just want to lose some weight and enjoy the beautiful game”. His initiative was backed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and innumerable health organisations.

It offers players motivation aplenty, advice from nutritionists, and has helped combat issues such as cancer, diabetes, gout, heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.

“It’s been a life-changer,” said Dan Church, an inspirational 31-year-old who has lost a staggering 9st 2lbs through Man v Fat football. “I was really depressed. My weight stopped me doing a lot of things that I wanted to do.

“I never felt comfortable with how I looked. I stopped going to Norwich City away games with my boy because I was too embarrassed that I wouldn’t be able to get through the turnstiles.

“Getting a suit for my wedding was an embarrassing process. I had to get a waistcoat custom-made – they didn’t do my size. Then when I looked at the wedding photos afterwards, I was shocked at what I looked like. I was embarrassed, ashamed. At that point I felt I had to make a change.

“I signed up after seeing Man v Fat advertised on Facebook. I had a couple of months before it started, so I built myself up into looking forward to it, but on the day it took me quite a while to get through the door. I started walking up towards the entrance and I kept having thoughts about turning round and not going.

"But once you’re through the door, everybody is welcoming. It’s a really friendly bunch. We’re all there for the same thing. It’s just making the initial step.

“You get put in a WhatsApp group. Everybody’s helping each other out, spurring each other on.

“I’m much happier in myself. I’m much fitter. I used to get a lot of chest pains. Now I don’t get them at all. I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without being out of breath. Now I can run about with my three kids. I couldn’t even run for two minutes. Now I'm running up to ten miles.

“I’ve now gone from being a Man V Fat player to a volunteer in Norwich. Because of how much how weight I’ve lost, and how much better I feel in myself, I want to help other people. I’m also using my Instagram as a weight-loss tool to inspire other people.

“My advice to anybody who is considering it or overweight would be, ‘Do it!’ It will change your life for the better.”

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