Half the nation's overweight teens have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels that put them at risk for future heart attacks and other cardiac problems. Even larger proportion of obese adolescents have such a risk, according to the alarming new numbers in the journal Pediatrics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research focused on 3,383 adolescents ages 12 through 19 from 1999 through 2008. The youths were part of an intensive national study that involves interviewing, weighing, measuring and performing medical tests on people across the country. The percentage of adolescents who were diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes rose dramatically, from 9 percent to 21 percent. Overall the study found that 50 percent of overweight youths and 60 percent of obese youths had at least one risk factor for future heart disease. But normal-weight kids aren't off the hook — 37 percent had at least one risk factor and could face increased chances for heart trouble as adults.