According to recent research, women with broader hips may be at lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The connection seems to lie in a variant in the KLF14 gene, which data have shown relates to diabetes risk. The same gene also appears to play a role in directing how a woman's body stores its fat. Women with one particular allele of the KLF14 gene have wider hips, while another allele prompts the development of slimmer hips.
Researchers have discovered that the connection lies in a particular protein that the gene variant encodes. This protein has the ability to alter the structure and function of other genes present in fat cells. A certain threshold of this protein seems to correlate with an increased risk of diabetes.
Data suggest that women possess higher baseline levels of the protein's precursor mRNA transcript, which may explain why this correlation only exists in the female population. However, other researchers suggest that there may be a certain sex-linked protein that reacts with the KLF14 protein, thus altering its effects based on the patient's gender. More research is necessary to further interpret these findings, though the KLF14 gene may be a contributing factor in the development of new diabetes therapies in the future.