30 Obese North Jutlanders to Lose Weight – and Help Researchers

Posted on 12.06.2019

A young researcher wants to see whether there is an easier and cheaper way for the health service to identify people at risk of developing dangerous fatty liver disease followed by diabetes.

Fatty liver affects as many as three quarters of all obese adults with type 2 diabetes. And, if someone has both fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, they have a 62% higher risk of having a heart attack or cardiac arrest as compared with people who have type 2 diabetes but not fatty liver. But are you in the danger zone? At present, finding out requires costly scans and unpleasant biopsies, but new research in North Jutland will now try to develop a cheap, simple test method.

A key figure in the project is Anders Askeland, 26, of Aalborg University Hospital, who holds a master’s of science degree in medicine with industrial specialisation and has just received a grant of 1.1 million Danish kroner to enable him to devote two years to the project.

The money has been awarded by the Danish Diabetes Academy, which is very excited about his project. ‘The life science industry dreams of having an easy way to quantify what the liver looks like, just by taking a blood sample. Anders Askeland’s work may be a step along the way’, says the Danish Diabetes Academy’s Managing Director, Tore Sønne Christiansen.

10% weight loss in three months

The people getting the most pleasure from the new project in the first instance will be a group of North Jutlanders: 30 people with a BMI of between 30 and 40 will be invited to take part and be helped to lose weight.

‘We want to see whether we can predict future liver disease with blood tests, and whether the blood tests will catch the changes that take place if people lose weight’, says Anders Askeland.

The thirty people to be enrolled in the project will be helped by a dietician at DiætistHuset – the Dietician House—in Aalborg. In order to take part, they must be prepared to lose 10% of their weight in three months.

High-BMI group should be offered screening

Anders Askeland says that people with high BMI should be screened so that they can be warned about the risk to their health, but he doubts that the health service will offer screening using the methods available today. ‘It is too expensive and too time-consuming, and the biopsy is not without risk. But, if we could do it fairly cheaply, in a pain-free and risk-free way, that might give us the chance to offer it to those we can see are at risk of getting ill’, he says.

EVs reveal risk

Specifically, what he will be looking for in the blood are ‘EVs’, minute particles that are released by cells and can reveal the risk of disease. By measuring EVs originating in the liver in a blood sample, we can learn about the condition of the liver and thus make predictions and warn people who are in the danger zone’, he says.

The project will begin in early autumn.

Anders Askeland’s supervisors are consultant and clinical professor Aase Handberg of Aalborg University and a professor from Valencia in Spain, where part of the PhD project will be conducted.


The Danish Diabetes Academy was founded in 2012 and is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish universities and university hospitals. Its objective is to strengthen Danish diabetes research and treatment by helping to train the diabetes researchers and practitioners of the future.

Anders Askeland
Tel. +45 81750357

Danish Diabetes Academy
Managing Director Tore Christiansen
Tel. +45 29646764

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