Triglycerides are a form of fat that is transported in the blood and stored in the body's fat tissues. They are found in foods and also are manufactured by the body.
"These findings suggest we may someday be able to use a simple blood test to identify those at risk for obesity," said senior author Mark Friedman, PhD, a behavioral physiologist at Monell.
"The ability to identify more susceptible individuals would make it possible to target obesity-prevention resources on those who need them most," he added.
The research team led by Hong Ji, PhD, screened rats for vulnerability to diet-induced obesity by measuring the increase in blood triglyceride levels following a single high-fat meal. They then fed the rats a diet high in fat over the next four weeks.
The researchers were able to predict which animals would become obese over the four-week period by examining the earlier metabolic response to the high-fat meal: the smaller the triglyceride change, the greater the weight gain.
They hope that future studies will entail a thorough investigation of the mechanism behind differences in the change in blood triglycerides.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.