Why I Made a Film About Both Types of Diabetes

The filmmaker behind the documentary Sugar Babies shares what she’s passionate about as the mom of a child with Type 1.

Sugar Babies, a new documentary on children and diabetes will be released on June 2nd. We asked filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie, the mother of a child with Type 1, why she decided to make this film. Here’s her response:

My daughter Lizzie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was four years old. All of a sudden, everything revolved around carbohydrate counting, insulin injections, and hundreds of blood sugar tests taken on her tiny fingers. I quickly became a tireless advocate for Type 1 diabetes. I did anything I could to help find a cure.

When Lizzie was diagnosed, people would say to me, “Well, how can Lizzie get diabetes? She’s so tiny, she’s so active.” They associated diabetes with being overweight, not exercising, and eating too much. In reaction, I became a Type 1 diabetes snob with a Type 2 prejudice.

Type 2 diabetes has always been referred to as a lifestyle disease, and eating lots of junk food and not being active puts one at a much higher risk of having Type 2. Type 2 diabetes used to only impact adults, but now the rates of Type 2 diabetes in kids and teens have skyrocketed. An entirely new group is at risk.

As I took a step back and looked at this phenomenon, it was a sobering wake-up call. It made me realize that this is a crisis. I knew that I wanted to make a film about both types of diabetes and their impact on our youngest generation.

After watching Lizzie live with Type 1 diabetes for 10 years, I started interviewing kids with both types of diabetes and to follow three families for two years. I wanted to discover how other families help their children to stay healthy and tackle these two diabetes epidemics.

Throughout the three-year production process, I have met many courageous, smart, and dedicated children, parents, and doctors. Knowing so many of us are risking our health with our current habits helped me to finish the film and to create an education and outreach campaign that I hope will inspire change.

None of this will be easy—cultural change comes slowly. I understand that these changes won’t magically take Lizzie’s Type 1 diabetes away, but they will give her and others a much better chance of controlling diabetes and living a long and healthy life. We must work together to combat both forms of diabetes. It’s up to us to save the health of our next generation.

You can preview Sugar Babies at https://vimeo.com/78641315.

SUGAR BABIES The Bittersweet Truth about Diabetes, A Jenny Mackenzie Film from Jenny Mackenzie on Vimeo.

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