About four years ago, a trim and seemingly healthy Bethel filmmaker went to the doctor for a routine checkup. He was diagnosed with diabetes.
"I could not have been more surprised," said filmmaker Lathe Poland, whose first name rhymes with Faith, and who is 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds. "I did not think I fit the classic model."
Poland, now 40, tried medication for a few months and attempted to lower his intake of carbohydrates. Then he heard an NPR piece that blew him away.
"It was on the great increase in children getting type 2 diabetes; what was 9 percent in 2000 went to 23 percent in 2009," he said. "That's what's classically called adult onset diabetes. In the past children would not get this; it was something you might get after a well-lived life."
Hearing that so many children were being diagnosed with this disease, which is the main cause of blindness and amputation, Poland was inspired to learn more. He found diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
"I realized it's not just older, overweight people getting diagnosed," he said. "I decided I had to dig into this topic and started doing interviews with experts."
Poland launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for production of an engaging and eye-opening documentary on the subject. He and his team explained their intentions online and asked for $40,000 -- what they thought was needed for travel and other expenses.
"To our surprise we got nearly $60,000," he said. "It struck a chord. We realized a lot of people are in the same boat."
After much research and two years of work, the 74-minute film was completed. It's called "Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat." More than 300 people attended last month's screening in Ridgefield. It's now set to be shown at The Bethel Cinema as part of the Connecticut Film Festival. That screening will be Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., and Poland will be on hand for a Q&A.
"We show him at his job and what he's going through," said Poland, explaining that the pancreas helps the body digest fats and maintain proper blood sugar levels. If it's overloaded, it can't process everything properly.
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use. The pancreas makes insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should.
Poland has traveled extensively producing commercials, filming live events and creating video content for such brands as The Discovery Channel, Dreamworks Pictures and The History Channel.
The filmmaker, who is married, said his own health has improved now that he pays more attention to his diet. He no longer has diabetes, but knows it could return if he's not careful.
Poland said the film's main message is that we should eat to live, not live to eat, and "just eat real food." As one of the experts says, "Know what real food is; it comes from a farm, a field or a forest -- not a factory."
If You Go: The Bethel Cinema, 269 Greenwood Ave, Bethel, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m., $10, $8 for seniors, 203-778-2100, www.bethelcinema.com