A PASSIONATE American football fan lost almost a third of his body weight so he could continue refereeing the game he loves up and down the country.

At more than 25 stone Colchester resident Lee Wood found it extremely difficult to keep up with the players on the pitch, but he wasn't willing to give up his biggest hobby without a fight.

So when his employer offered him the chance of joining his nearest Weight Watchers group through its corporate insurance policy, he jumped at the chance.

Gazette: Despite his weight Lee Wood has always had a big passion for sportsDespite his weight Lee Wood has always had a big passion for sports

A year later and Mr Wood, 34, has lost nearly eight stone, or more than 100lbs, and a massive 14 inches off his waistline.

“Despite being overweight my entire life, I have always been passionate about sport and never let it stop me from getting involved," he said.

"I am a keen golfer and follow American football but it was getting harder and harder physically to follow my dream.

"I decided to join my local Weight Watchers workshop as after doing a bit of research, I realised that the points system would be really easy for me to follow and keep track of the food I ate."

The numbers buff and IT project manager says starting to eat breakfast, replacing chicken nuggets with chicken breasts and cutting down on takeaways soon set him on his way to serious weight loss.

He continued: "I have loads more energy now and don’t wake myself up from snoring any more where I have lost weight from my neck.

"I love the fact that I can walk into any high street store and buy clothes and that my colleagues at work reckon I’m half the man I used to be.

"The best thing of all is that I can now run rings around the American football players when I’m refereeing a game."

Gazette: Lee Wood lost nearly eight stone in a yearLee Wood lost nearly eight stone in a year

Mr Wood is a member of the Weight Watchers workshop at Saint Barnabas Church Hall, in Abbot's Road, on Wednesday evenings from 7pm.

Karen Ward, his wellness coach, said: "It’s been brilliant to watch the transformation in Lee.

"He completely embraced the plan, tracking everything he ate and learning to cook from scratch with healthy ingredients.

"He inspires all of us every week and he looks great in his American football outfit too."

Visit www.weightwatchers.com/uk.