People who regain weight after a diet may not be to blame — a newly-discovered protein may be the cause, scientists said yesterday.

The protein was found in high concentrations in the blood during the dieting period, especially among women who later regained the weight.

A study by the University of Maastricht, in Holland, said the presence of the protein could be a matter of genes.

They now hope to develop a test that would identify people prone to yo-yo dieting.

Edwin Mariman, a genetics professor at the university, said: “Until now there has been no clear link between this protein and obesity.”

His study looked at around 100 women aged from 20-45 — half of whom maintained their post-diet weight and half of whom regained weight.

Up to 80 percent of the dieters who regained weight were found to have heightened levels of the protein.

The team is now planning to carry out similar research on a group of men.

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