PCRM to Heart Attack Grill:
Shut It Down

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PCRM to Heart Attack Grill:
Shut It Down

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
March 2012

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.

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