Meet Jenny Mackenzie, director of the documentary Sugar Babies. The eye-opening documentary focuses on the rise of childhood diabetes. Filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie tackles this issue by exploring and revealing the truth of this growing epidemic and how it is effecting children of all ages in America.
1) What inspired you to create this documentary?
Our youngest daughter Lizzie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was four years old. Four years ago, I stumbled upon this old family footage that I had shot while she was in the hospital. Initially, I thought I would make a film about type 1 diabetes. I dove into the research and I found out that type 2 diabetes that used to be called “adult onset” diabetes was being diagnosed in kids and teens; and that the type 2 numbers were exploring. So I decided that as a storyteller, it was really part of my ethical obligation to try to tell the story about both types of diabetes.
2) Did you find any difficulties filming any of the subjects and/or stories featured in Sugar Babies?
Four of the five stories were easy to tell and the subjects were very open and receptive to participating in the film; but the 5th subject was my own daughter Lizzie, and our own family. When you are involved in your own film, it makes it more complicated.
3) Sugar Babies provides in-depth explanation and numerous facts about childhood diabetes. Were there any findings you discovered while filming that you were surprised by?
Yes. I was shocked to find that SO many teens and childrens were at risk for type 2 diabetes because of our “Great American life style.” But what surprised me even more was that people who have type 1 can develop type 2 in ADDITION to type 1 if they don’t pay attention to a healthy diet and physical activity. No one is immune.
4) What are commons myths about childhood diabetes?
Myth 1: Diabetes is not that big of a deal.
Fact: Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are HUGE deals, but if you eat well, and manage it right, you can help delay or even avoid some diabetes-related health complications down the road.
Myth 2: People who are extremely heavy or overweight eventually get Type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Being overweight is just one of the most significant risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. There are other factors, such as family history, race or ethnicity, and age.
5) Do you have any updates on the children featured in the documentary?
Prince (20) is a sophomore at Marymount College in NYC. Lizzie (17) will be a freshman next year at Northeastern University in Boston, and has brought her A1C down to an 8.5. The Vigorin Family is doing well, and Morgan (16) is symptom free from her Type 2 diabetes. Caidence (6) just finished first grade, and is using an insulin pump. Headstart (Salt Lake City) won a National award for their progressive and healthy meal program from the Obama administration.
Watch Sugar Babies