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How a Powerful Obesity Gene Helped Samoans Conquer the South Pacific

(Gizmodo) By studying the genomes of more than 5,000 Samoans, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have uncovered a single gene that boosts a person’s obesity risk by upwards of 40 percent. Remarkably, this gene—which appears in a quarter of all Samoans—may have arisen in the population as they colonized the South Pacific…
[T]his “thrifty” genetic variant, called CREBRF, is associated with a 1.5 percent increase in Body Mass Index (BMI)…
[The] gene appears to work by causing cells to store more fat and release less energy. As Alice Klein pointed out…, it’s as “if [cells] are trying to conserve as much fuel as possible.” And indeed, there may be a very good reason why this gene appears at elevated levels among Samoans. It has to do with their history of colonizing the South Pacific Islands.
Starting around 3,500 years ago, ancestors of Samoans began the arduous task of settling the 24 major island groups of Polynesia. This colonization process—one of the most extreme examples in all of human history—took possibly thousands of years to complete. “They had to endure voyages between islands and subsequently survive on those islands,” study co-author Ryan Minster [said].
Community: I am absolutely certain that I have this gene. If we had a famine, I’d be in good shape!
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