If you think cardiovascular disease and diabetes are primarily concerns as you age, think again. A new study finds high levels of cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, among overweight and obese teens. On top of that, the same group has seen a surge in prediabetes and diabetes.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control looked at data on nearly 3,400 adolescents ages 12 to 19 between 1999 and 2008.
“Unfortunately, the one thing they found that got worse is the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes,” says Douglas Rogers, MD, who did not take part in the study but is a pediatric endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic.
Results show 50 percent all overweight teens had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor, and 60 percent of obese teens did, too. In fact, 37 percent of normal-weight teens had one or more of the risk factors.
Researchers say the most common combination of risk factors among overweight and obese children was prehypertension/hypertension and borderline high cholesterol. But of all the risk factors studied, prediabetes/diabetes increased the most — from 9 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2008.
Dr. Rogers says preventive measures are critical.
“Primary care providers need to be screening their obese and overweight adolescents for pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes,” he says.
Complete findings for this study are in the journal Pediatrics.