POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 5:15pm
UPDATED: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 5:19pm
NBC NATIOANL NEWS — The number of U.S. teenagers at risk for heart attacks and stroke has risen dramatically over the past decade.
Dr. Ashleigh May of the centers for disease control led a study of more than 3-thousand teens.
She and her colleagues found the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes in teens increased from 9 percent in 1999 to 23 percent a decade later.
And more than half of all overweight and obese teenagers had at least one other cardiovascular risk factor, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
But Dr. May says weight shouldn't be the only indication of a looming problem.
"Among those who were normal weight, about 37 percent of them had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor," said Dr. May.
Despite the grim statistics and the rise in teens with diabetes, the study found the prevalence of obesity in adolescents hit a plateau.
"We think that may be why we're not seeing an increase in the prevalence of pre-hypertension and hypertension as well as high and borderline LDL in children," Dr. May said.
Experts say adolescence is a key time for doctors and parents to intervene by promoting healthier lifestyles, like exercise and healthy eating.