It topped or tied the television ratings for both the republican and democratic conventions and also showed competitive numbers against the opening of the NFL season. The “it” is a new reality TV series that debuted during convention week.
If you haven’t met Honey Boo Boo (nicknamed by her family), you will. She is TLC’s newest reality star, seven-year-old Alana Thompson. Before her new TV series, she was seen on TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras show. Known on the child pageant circuit for her revved up behavior after drinking mom’s concoction of “go-go” juice (a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew) at competitions, Honey Boo Boo took the reality TV world by storm in her debut show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo a few weeks ago.
The best way to describe this child and her family is to rehearse every, “You know you are a redneck when…” joke. Yes, the family fits the stereotype, but I am not laughing.
When Momma June yells to Honey Boo Boo during her pageant competitions, “Show them your belly,” people may laugh and even be cheering for what seems to be body acceptance, but childhood obesity is a serious health problem facing our nation today. As I reported in my book, Raising Healthy Kids, one in three children and teens is overweight or obese. The fall out for child obesity includes high blood pressure, Type II Diabetes, elevated cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, sleep problems, increased risk for asthma, and early maturation. Walk around my children’s hospital with me and you won’t be laughing at these kids struggling with their weight. When a three-year- old is prehypertensive, it is not funny or entertaining!
And then there is the infamous “go-go juice” Momma June pumps into her daughter during pageant competitions that makes Honey Boo Boo go a little crazy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics, June, 2011) put out a position paper on energy drinks. Their position: Children should NEVER drink high octane energy drinks. Now add the caffeinated and sugary Mountain Dew and you’ve got problems. Drinks like the “go-go” juice are loaded with caffeine and stimulants such as taurine and guarana. Side effects can include an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia. And remember, caffeine is an addictive substance that can lead to withdrawal even in children. Then, of course, there is the added calories of these drinks which are loaded with sugar, which can result in weight gain and dental erosion.
So instead of Boo Boo, I’m saying Boo Hoo.
While this family can be hilarious in their verbage and rural south behavior, their health concerns outweigh the “entertainment” value for me. And I can’t get past the feeling that this child is being exploited–first in the weird world of child beauty pageants and now on reality TV. The family is making money and supposedly laughing at themselves, but what will happen to this child a few years from now?
Momma June weighed herself on national TV and came in at a whopping 309 pounds. And while I give her credit for being so up front about her weight and accepting, she is also at risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer. If she doesn’t take her health serious and lose some weight, she may not be around to see Honey Boo Boo grow up. And that would be tragic reality.
What is your reaction to this new reality series?