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Obesity is one of the most visible but neglected public health challenges of the 21st century. It affects one in six adults and one in eight children across EU countries and according to World Health Organization (WHO) projections, Europe is facing a major obesity crisis by 2030, with many countries likely to see half of adults above the healthy weight limit [1].

In June 2021, the European Commission officially classified obesity as a chronic disease [2]. In response, the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) published its manifesto outlining priority actions to improve the treatment and management of obesity [3]. These actions include a call for improved education for healthcare professions (HCPs), to support more effective, evidence-based multidisciplinary care for people with obesity.

At present, the topic of obesity is given little attention as part of Health Care Professional (HCP) education/training, with the EASO calling for HCPs to help in identifying the knowledge gaps in their own community and provide solutions through education [2]. Of the established HCP, physiotherapy is the leading non-pharmacological health profession globally, with approximately 565,000 practising physiotherapists in the EU [4]. Given the evidence to support active, holistic lifestyle approaches to obesity and physiotherapists' expertise in this field [5], they are ideally positioned to play a major role in obesity prevention and management.


The PROMINENCE project - bridging the gap

The PROMINENCE (Promoting Obesity and Metabolic Rehabilitation INclusion in EU Entry-level Physiotherapy Curricula) project joins physiotherapy stakeholders from four EU countries - Ireland, Sweden, Finland, and Belgium - with aims to: 

  • facilitate educators to drive development and achievement of competences, 

  • create new, innovative or joint curricula or courses beyond scope, and

  • provide digital content and share sound pedagogical practices

in the area of obesity education and physiotherapy

PROMINENCE seeks to promote inter-connected higher education institutions (HEI) and systems by:

  • collaborating to develop and standardise obesity education in physiotherapy programmes and align with European Qualifications Framework (EQF), and 

  • sharing knowledge, skills, expertise and developing contemporary evidence-based obesity education across boundaries. 

To further enhance the interconnectedness of higher education systems in Europe, the PROMINENCE project includes the Europe Region of World Physiotherapy - a stakeholder with an overarching influence that can facilitate transnational project implementation and uptake of findings. Through its dedicated Education and Research Working Group, a key part of the Europe Region of World Physiotherapy's mission is to drive best practices in physiotherapy education across the EU with a view to producing highly skilled practitioners who demonstrate a whole-person and compassionate cross-cultural approach to patient care. Advocacy and leadership for people living with obesity are core to this approach, given the disempowering social stigma often associated with obesity. Tackling gaps and identifying skills that need updating in physiotherapy curricula across the EU (cognisant of cultural equality, diversity, and inclusion) requires a systematic, standardised, yet flexible approach to further update the plethora of competencies among HCPs involved in obesity and metabolic rehabilitation. 

The PROMINENCE Education and Research Consortium will focus on the facilitation of evidence-based obesity education in the area of physiotherapy. Academic relationships fostered via the PROMINENCE project will drive the development of:


  • ​related and new research collaborations,

  • competency framework for adoption by HEIs, and

  • staff and student mobility programmes. 


1. World Health Organization. World Health Organisation. Obesity and overweight. WHO Fact sheets website. Accessed:

2. Burki T. European Commission classifies obesity as a chronic disease. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2021 Jul;9(7):418. DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(21)00145-5.

3.The EU Obesity  Policy Engagement Network Call to Action: Changing the Status Quo in Obesity. Accessed:

4. Statista. Number of physiotherapists employed in Europe in 2019, by country. Accessed:

5. World Physiotherapy. What is physiotherapy? Accessed: 


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