Genetic variations in African Americans could reveal why more blacks develop type 2 diabetes than whites, according to a study published in PLoS ONE and reported by HealthDay News.

Researchers from the McAllister Heart Institute at the University of North Carolina discovered these findings while examining RNA and DNA from heart patients.

“We found gene expression profiles that suggest carbohydrate metabolism should be different in the African Americans in our population compared to Caucasians,” said Cam Patterson, MD, chief of cardiology and director of the institute.

According to the article, the difference might be traced back to when blacks lived in Africa, in environments where food was scarce and diets were radically different from today’s. As a result of living in those conditions, blacks developed a different way to metabolize glucose (sugars).

“In essence, although African populations moved geographically as they came to the United States, their genes retained a pattern more suited to their ancestors’ home, becoming maladaptive as African populations adopted a Western diet,” Patterson explained.

Did you know that diabetes also puts African Americans at risk for kidney disease?

Read more about it here.