Samoa, with its string of beautiful islands and coral atolls in the South Pacific, is attracting more than just tourists these days. Scientists are heading there, too. The nation holds the uneviable position of being No. 1 in the world for obesity. Among Samoan men, 80 percent are either overweight or obese, and that figure reaches 91 percent for Samoan women. They are the fattest people in the world, and they are proving revealing subjects for genetics studies.

I learned about obesity in Samoa after seeing a recent report on a genetic analysis of more than 5,000 people on the islands.

The study, led by Ryan Minster of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, uncovered a gene variant that boosts obesity risk by 30-40 percent.