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Obesity is a growing health concern in the Oceanic populations. To investigate the genetic factors associated with adult obesity in the Oceanic populations, the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) gene with obesity was examined in 694 adults living in Tonga and Solomon Islands.A screening for variation in 16 Oceanic subjects detected 17 SNPs in the entire region of ADRB2, of which nine SNPs including two non-synonymous ones, rs1042713 (Arg16Gly) and rs1042714 (Gln27Glu), were further genotyped for all subjects. The rs34623097-A allele, at a SNP located upstream of ADRB2, showed the strongest association with risk for obesity in a logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, and population (P = 5.6 × 10-4, odds ratio [OR] = 2.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5-4.2). The 27Glu was also significantly associated with obesity in the single-point association analysis (P = 0.013, OR = 2.0, 95%CI = 1.2-3.4); however, this association was no longer significant after adjustment for rs34623097 since these SNPs were in linkage disequilibrium with each other. A copy of the obesity-risk allele, rs34623097-A, led to a 1.6 kg/m2 increase in body mass index (BMI; defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) (P = 0.0019). A luciferase reporter assay indicated that rs34623097-A reduced the transcriptional activity of the luciferase reporter gene by approximately 10% compared with rs34623097-G. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay demonstrated that rs34623097 modulated the binding affinity with nuclear factors. An evolutionary analysis implies that a G>A mutation at rs34623097 occurred in the Neandertal genome and then the rs34623097-A allele flowed into the ancestors of present-day humans.The present results suggest that rs34623097-A, which would lead to lower expression of ADRB2, contributes to the onset of obesity in the Oceanic populations.