Latino culture may see a well-fed child as a healthy child, but this may lead to unhealthy results. Almost a quarter of all American adolescents—including Latino teens—have prediabetes or diabetes, usually a result of being overweight or obese, according to a study published in Pediatrics and reported by NBC Latino.

For the study, researchers used 1999-2008 study data from almost 3,400 American adolescents ages 12 to 19. They found that during the span of that decade, the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes jumped from 9 percent of teens to a whopping 21 percent. The study also revealed that 34 percent of American teens were overweight or obese and at increased risk of diabetes or prediabetes.

In addition, half of overweight teens and nearly two-thirds of obese teens had one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, only one-third of normal-weight teens had one or more risk factors.

"Parents should keep in mind that if we identify these problems early or work to prevent these problems early, then we have an opportunity to help youth avoid negative health consequences that may occur," said lead author Ashleigh May, PhD, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sixteen percent of the adolescents in the study were Latino. They were just as likely as the overall population to suffer from prediabetes or diabetes.

"Within Latino culture, a gordito is equated as a healthy child, and that’s something we have to change given how diabetes has become such a problem within our community," said study coauthor Carmen Román-Shriver, PhD, associate professor and director of dietetics and nutrition at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "We have to remember that diabetes can be a precursor to heart disease—the leading cause of death among Hispanics."

To read the NBC Latino article, click here.