'Toddlers and Tiaras' Controversy: Mom Defends Feeding Daughter 'Pageant Crack'
Alana Thompson is a first-grader from rural McIntyre, Georgia, who is making waves on the pageant circuit by embracing her Southern roots and showing off plenty of moves.
She is a regular on the hit TLC show " Toddlers and Tiaras," where her self-created nickname, Honey Boo Boo, has stuck.
But perhaps what six-year-old Alana has become best known for on the show is how she gets all the energy to be a star on the demanding pageant stage.
Her mother, June Shannon, is stirring up a controversy of her own with a concoction she created to give her daughter a kick on those long pageant days.
"My special juice is going to help me win," Alana says in one of the show's episodes. "My Go-Go Juice is kicking in right now."
Shannon makes Alana's "Go-Go Juice" herself using a combination of part Mountain Dew and part Red Bull, two well-known energy drinks.
One can of each of the two drinks combined contains about the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee.
Shannon turned to Go-Go Juice after finding that the two bags of Pixy Stixs, the powdered candy in a wrapper that resembles a drinking straw, and is known in the pageant world as "pageant crack," she was feeding Alana were not enough to keep her alert all day during pageant competitions.
"When they do get on stage you have to be alive and…your personality has to shine a long day," Shannon told " Good Morning America." "A pageant day can last from 7 in the morning to 6,7,8,9, 10 at night, so performing and getting a kid up that early and lasting all day without a rest, you have to energize their body."
"There are far worse things," she said, defending her choice. "I could be giving her alcohol."
Shannon also says that she is not alone in her caffeinated solution, noting that sugar highs and caffeine fixes are a staple on the pageant circuit.
"Everybody does it," she told "GMA." "There are normal people who give their kids this, so why is it such a big issue with us pageant moms that do it all weekend to keep our kids energized and awake?"
"GMA" observed young beauty contestants at a pageant in New York City eating Skittles candies and drinking caffeinated soda as early as seven in the morning. At another pageant, in Austin, Texas, there also was no shortage of "pageant crack" to be found, consumed morning to night.
According to a 2011 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, too much caffeine for a young child can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems. Doctors also say that too much caffeine and sugar can to lead to a risk of physical dependence and addiction.
To critics who say that such a high amount of caffeine at such a young age could endanger Alana's health now and in the future, Shannon says her daughter is a well-adjusted and active six year old who normally eats a healthy diet and is always on the move when she's not competing on the pageant circuit.
Asked if she is concerned that her daughter may become addicted to sugar, she replied, "I don't."
"She's got meat on her," she said of her daughter's physique. "She's not skinny but, whether skinny or fat, I am still going to love my children regardless. I could care less if they get up to 1,000 pounds; I am still going to love them."