PCRM to Heart Attack Grill:
Shut It Down
Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
PCRM told the Heart Attack Grill last month that it should declare moral
bankruptcy and close up shop—or transform its menu. The letter was sent
after the hospitalization of a man eating a “Triple Bypass Burger” and the
death of the restaurant’s 575-pound spokesman.
Dramatic video of a customer being wheeled out of the Las Vegas
restaurant on a stretcher is only the latest sign of the very real risks
associated with celebrating high-fat diets. Blair River, a Heart Attack
Grill spokesman, died last year at the age of 29. River, who starred in
commercials for the eatery, weighed 575 pounds at the end of his life and
died of pneumonia. Studies have shown that obesity increases the risk of
respiratory complications, including pneumonia.
“Anyone who has ever had someone they love go under the surgeon’s knife
or die of a heart attack knows that a bypass operation isn’t remotely
funny,” wrote PCRM director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.,
in her letter to Heart Attack Grill owner John Basso. “It’s time to end your
bizarre efforts to capitalize on obesity and clogged arteries.”
PCRM’s letter received nationwide coverage, including stories by the
Associated Press and Good Morning America.
The Heart Attack Grill’s menu features “Single,” “Double,” “Triple,” and
“Quadruple Bypass” burgers as well as “Flatliner Fries” cooked in lard. Its
website boasts, “Over 350 Pounds? Eat For Free!”
The average American now eats more than 200 pounds of meat and more than
30 pounds of cheese a year. These high-fat, high-cholesterol products take a
terrible toll. Two-thirds of the population is either overweight or obese.
More than 80 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular
disease. Cancer strikes one in two men and one in the three women over the
course of their lives.
Extensive research finds that vegetarian and vegan diets can help prevent
and even reverse heart disease and other chronic diseases. Vegetarian men
weigh less and have less cardiovascular disease risk, compared with
nonvegetarians, according to a study published last year in Nutrition and
Metabolism. One study in JAMA found that vegetarian diets lower cholesterol
levels almost as powerfully as statin drugs.