Berit L. Heitmann

DMD, Professor, PhD
Head of Research Unit for Dietary Studies
+45 3816 3070


Professor Berit Lilienthal Heitmann is Leader of the Research Unit for Dietary Studies (Enheden for Epidemiologisk Kostforskning) at the Parker Institute. The Research Unit was established in 1998 based on a major grant from the Danish MRC under the FREJA program (Female Researchers in Joint Action). The Research Unit conducts nutrition and obesity research within observation and intervention studies and houses an international network comprising more than 200 mainly European, researchers. The Unit employs about 15 full-time researchers and statisticians. Berit Heitmann has been advisor, supervisor and/or reviewer of multiple doctoral and PhD dissertations in Denmark and abroad (+100).

Professor positions

Professor Heitmann is professor in nutritional epidemiology at University of Copenhagen (since 2015), University of Southern Denmark (1999-2015) and visiting professor at University of Sydney, Australia, the Boden Institute at the Charles Perkins Centre (since 2011).

Scientific work

She has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers, two thirds of which were published in the previous 10 years in major journals within the fields of nutrition, epidemiology, and obesity or in non-specialist journals like BMJ. She has a H-index of 65 and is ranked between the 30 most publishing female scientists in medicine with a D-index of 80.

Obtained Funding

Professor Heitmann has, since 1999, obtained >250 million Dkr, or about 34 million Euro, total. She has +30 years of research experience, related to nutrition and obesity, investigating the genetic and lifestyle causes and the health and social consequences of obesity, addressed by methods in clinical, genetic and general epidemiology, and randomized controlled interventions concerned with diet composition, physical activity, psychological behavior, weight control and obesity.

National and International research programs

Professor Heitmann has led several large national and international research programs, among others she was PI for the Horizon2020 EU project “NoHoW”, on weight maintenance using mHealth technology, and is partner in the current large 180 mio Dkr LightCOM project that will develop and test new obesity management programmes in Denmark and the UK. In Denmark she led the project "Sund Start" – a randomized intervention among 2–5-year-old children at risk of future overweight gain , the project D-tecting – disease- from exposure to vitamin D during critical periods of life, the Danish RCT: OBEAT – beating obesity early in life and the two recent RCT: the PROBE project to examine if treating women with periodontal disease during pregnancy positively influence pregnancy and birth outcomes, and the PEP flute-selfcare to prevent respiratory deterioration and hospitalization among COVID-19 patients (for more info see ).

International lecturing

Professor Heitmann is considered an international expert in nutritional epidemiology, has been invited to lecture at more than 200 national and international conferences and has organized several international symposia, workshops, or conferences, among them as president for the 5th International Diet Assessment methods Conference (ICDAM) held in Copenhagen in 2006.

International Scientific committees and advisory functions

She served and still serve at many different national and international advisory boards of official institutions, organizations and journals, including national and international research councils. (Sweden, Norway, Finland and New Zealand) and currently she serves as both reviewer and panel member for The Research Council of Norway (since 2007). From 2016-18 she was member of The President International Advisory Board, for the World Obesity Organization, and since 2019 she has served at the Food and Health International Advisory Board, for the University of Örebro, Sweden.

National and international Scientific committees and advisory functions

Berit Heitmann has been scientific secretary (1990-1994) and president (1996-1998 and 1998-2000) and senior board member (since 2015) for the Danish Association for the study on Obesity.  Nationally, she was advisory board member for The Board for Research in Food Safety and Nutrition, The Danish Ministry for Foods, Agriculture and Fishery, The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, (1999-2002). She was also board member at the Centers of Excellence Programme Committee, The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (2003-2005), and has served on the advisory board of The Danish Medical Research Board, The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (2003-2008); and from 2004-2008 furthermore as Executive Committee member. She was Deputy chairman of the board of directors of Danish Institute of Food and Veterinary Research, The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries (2004-2006), and board member of The Milk Levy Foundation under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries (2004-2008), as well as The Danish Strategic Research Council, Programme Commission on Health, Food and Welfare (2010-2011). and on the scientific advisory boards for the TRYG foundation (a major insurance foundation in Denmark) (2008-14), The Danish Heart Foundation (2018-22), and the Danish Diabetes Association (since 2013). She has also produced several reports on prevention and obesity for The Danish National Board of Health, The National Danish Board of Technology, the Nutrition Council and the Vidensrådet for Forebyggelse.