Half of the nation's overweight teenagers have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar levels that put them at risk for heart problems later in life, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, also revealed the percentage of teens diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes rose dramatically between 1999 and 2008.
"What this is saying, unfortunately, is that we're losing the battle early with many kids," said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado School of Medicine expert who was not involved in the study.
Overall, the CDC study found that 50 percent of overweight young people and 60 percent of obese teens had at least one risk factor for future heart disease.
Researchers also looked at normal weight adolescents and found that 37 percent of them had at least one risk factor for heart disease.