Sylvisha Perry, 21, has Type 2 diabetes and all the health problems that come with it, like high blood pressure. Doctors diagnosed her when she was 15 years old.
"Chips, candy, cookies; that was me. So, I probably egged it on to come and happen faster," Perry said.
Perry is part of a disturbing trend according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
Between 1999 and 2008, the percentage of teenagers with pre-diabetes and diabetes jumped from 9 percent to 23 percent.
"This leads possibly, if we don't intervene, to younger and younger people getting cardiovascular disease and it's a wakeup call to work on aggressive treatment and prevention," said Dr. Robin Goland of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center.
Teens at the greatest risk were overweight or obese and up to 61 percent of them had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
"These are things that only grandma gets, and then they're taking two, three, four medications. It's expensive, they have side effects and then their friends aren't doing it. It's asking a lot and it's hard," Goland said.
Perry has to check her blood sugar three times a day and give herself insulin shots, but admits she wasn't always a willing participant.
"I was in denial because at 15, I wasn't paying attention to it. So I just ignored it," she said.
And that could be the most dangerous risk factor of all.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.
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