Live Fit Tooele County will be the first to host a series of public screenings of “Sugar Babies,” a new documentary about the rise of Type I and Type II Diabetes among American youth, at Stansbury High School this Friday.
Salt Lake City director/producer Jenny Mackenzie, whose own family has experienced three generation of Type I Diabetes, said she created the film to raise awareness about the disease’s impact on children. She chose to broaden the scope of her documentary when, while researching diabetes statistics, she happened upon some alarming discoveries.
“The upcoming generation of children is dying younger than we are,” Mackenzie said. “For me, that is terrifying information.”
The film has already been screened at a film festival in New York—where it was well received, Mackenzie said—but Friday’s event will be the first time a general-interest Utah audience will view the film.
Mackenzie has planned eleven separate screenings for the month of November, but said she ultimately went with Tooele for the location of the first screening because of the organizational support she received from Live Fit, and also because the bulk of the footage for the film was shot in Utah.
“I was so impressed with Tooele’s ability to take action and come together for the good of the community,” she said.
“Sugar Babies” follows five families, including Mackenzie’s, living with either type I or type II diabetes, Mackenzie said. She also sought out interviews with some of the top researchers in the field and delved into their work to highlight the difference between the two diseases.
Type I diabetes, she said, is an autoimmune disease similar to Lupus, Celiac or MS, where the body damages its own organs. There is no known cure. Type II, on the other hand, occurs when a person’s body ceases to regulate blood sugar properly. It is often the result of prolonged obesity.
The number of children developing Type II diabetes has increased at an exponential rate in recent years, Mackenzie said, and the culprit can be found in the typical American diet, which relies too heavily on processed foods, and on the nation’s sedentary lifestyle.
“Because of our lifestyle and sedentary behavior, we have an obesity epidemic that is threatening our youngest generation,” she said.
Live Fit will host the screening in the Stansbury High School auditorium at 6 p.m.—the doors will open at 5:30 p.m. It is free to attend, and local businesses will provide free refreshments. The documentary is suitable for children eight and older, Mackenzie said, but for families with younger children, there will be free child care available. There will also be a number of free, family-friendly fitness activities and giveaways at the event.
While the documentary focuses on diabetes, Live Fit Coalition Chair Malaena Toohey said the event itself should have a wide appeal.
“This event isn’t just for people affected by diabetes,” Toohey wrote in an email. “It is a community event—a call to action to evaluate your health and the health of your family to prevent getting type 2 diabetes—including activities for families seeking ways to be more fit and healthy.”