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Diabetes is the focus of ‘Sugar Babies’ documentary

These jars, made by the Park City Medical Center's LiveWell Center, show how much sugar is found in daily foods. The jars will be on display during the Park City Film Series screening of the documentary "Sugar Babies" at the Prospector Theater on Thursday. The LiveWell Center partnered with the Park City Film Series and will host a panel discussion after the screening. (Amy Roberts)
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Diabetes is a general term that labels a group of metabolic diseases that occurs when a person suffer high blood because their body can’t produce enough insulin, or because the body does not respond properly to insulin.

The most common are type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to Becky Cannon, registered dietician and nutritionist for the Park City Medical Center’s LiveWell Center, a nonprofit organization that works to help community members maintain healthy lives.

The difference is that type 1 is unpreventable and type 2 is.

"Type 1, which is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder where the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin," Cannon told The Park Record during a teleconference with LiveWell executive director Vanessa Laurella. "It’s also hereditary and in the past two decades we have seen a rise and do know that 13,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year."

Type 2, on the other hand develops over time and is the result of unhealthy lifestyles, according to Laurella.

"We have seen a lot of young adults diagnosed with it because of their poor dietary choices," she said. "All of the sugar and corn syrup in our foods have caused diabetes to explode in our nation."

This is the main reason why the LiveWell Center is partnering with the Park City Film Series to present a free screening of the documentary, "Sugar Babies: The Bittersweet Truth of Diabetes," at 6 p.m., on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Prospector Theater, 2175 Sidewinder Dr.

The documentary was directed by Salt Lake City-based filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie, said Katharine Wang, Park City Film Series executive director.

"Jenny is the mother of a daughter who has type 1 diabetes, which is a hereditary disease," Wang explained. "Her daughter is the third generation in the family to have it."

The film focuses on the family’s medical, personal and technological plight to manage the disease.

"It is interesting to see Jenny’s perspective from inside her family and how they do that on a personal level," Wang said. "It’s amazing how far we’ve come to manage the disease. I mean parents have the ability to monitor their kids’ eating habits remotely. But even with all these technological advances, diabetes is still difficult to manage, especially when kids get into their teens, when they want to be unique, but not the I-have-diabetes unique."

The film also explores type 2 diabetes, Wang said.

"There is often a stigma against type 2 diabetes because people feel that those who have type 2 brought the disease upon themselves," she said. "Jenny directly addresses that by looking at two people and how the disease affects not only them, but their families.

"We see just how challenging it is to be a parent of a teen with diabetes and there are serious side effects, including death, if they can’t manage the disease together," Wang said. "We thought it was important to bring this film to the community, because there are people here who struggle with diabetes."

Wang also wanted to help the community learn about the different resources that are available locally to help families learn about diabetes and help those who struggle with it get through those low periods and themselves motivated so they can continue to mange it.

So, she asked the LiveWell Center to co-sponsor the screening and facilitate a panel discussion, which will be moderated by Laurella, following the screening.

The participants, who were also recruited by Laurella, will include filmmaker Mackenzie, endocrinologist Leanne Swenson, pediatrician Alison Delgado, LiveWell Center registered dietician Betty Wade and exercise physiologist Julienne McCulloch.

The panel will address concerns about type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is that those with diabetes can control it with just the insulin shots, but that’s not true," Cannon said. "They have to focus on the quality of the foods as well, and that’s challenging for kids, because their parents can’t always be in charge of their eating, especially when they become teenagers."

To bring the point home, the LiveWell Center will set up displays that show how much sugar is found in everyday foods and drinks.

"Another thing the documentary illustrates is how people can live an active lifestyle, but still be unhealthy," Laurella said. "The LiveWell Center can provide all the support, coaching and evaluations to help people understand that."

Co-sponsoring the screening and facilitating the panel are good opportunities for the LiveWell Center to reach out to the community.

"Interestingly, most people don’t utilize our services until they have a problem," Laurella said. "Our whole goal is to help our community understand that we would love them to be proactive and receive education and evaluations prior to being diagnosed with chronic illnesses."

In addition to the discussion, other health-related community resources from the Christian Center of Park City, EATS Park City, Jewish Family Services, Park City Sport & Wellness Coalition, People’s Health Clinic and Summit County Health, will be available to filmgoers.

The Park City Film Series will present a free screening of Jennie Mackenzie’s "Sugar Babies: The Bittersweet Truth About Diabetes," not rated, at the Prospector, 2175 Sidewinder Dr., on Thursday, Oct. 23. There will be a panel discussion facilitated by the Park City Medical Center’s LiveWell Center following the screening. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.org .


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