MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered an abnormal protein is linked with elevated body mass index in people of American Indian and Mexican ancestry.
Professor Gary Nelsestuen and colleagues at the University of Minnesota found the variant of a common blood protein, apolipoprotein C1, is also linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The scientists say the abnormal protein might promote metabolic efficiency and storage of body fat when food is abundant. That could have provided a survival advantage to ancient American Indians when food was scarce.
Nelsestuen says the discovery can be used to identify those who are at risk for diabetes and to guide diet and lifestyle choices to prevent diabetes.
The finding appears in the online issue of the International Journal of Obesity.