THE public image of Scottish football has come in for something of a kicking in recent years, but it is good to see the game helping some fans achieve the goal of a healthier life.

Obese supporters who took part in a diet and exercise initiative run by Scotland's top-flight clubs have praised the Football Fans in Training programme (FFIT scheme) after research showed that, on average, they shed 11lb more than men trying to lose weight on their own.

FFIT, which began in June 2011, was offered by all SPL clubs and delivered free of charge by community coaching staff employed by the clubs.

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Participants, 90% of whom were considered clinically obese, attended weekly training sessions at their favourite club, which saw them take part in pitch-side exercise routines. The 90-minute classes also incorporated advice on healthy eating. A total of 747 men - a jumbo figure in more ways than one - took part, and lost an average of 13lb over the three-month trial. Nine months later they had typically put back on no more than 1lb.

It is heartening to see the beautiful game put a smile on so many faces.