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The Physicians Committee

Declare Moral Bankruptcy and Close the Heart Attack Grill

Feb. 16, 2012

John Basso
Heart Attack Grill
450 Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Dear Mr. Basso:

I won’t sugarcoat this: Shut it down. As a dietitian who has worked with people suffering from diabetes and heart disease, I’m writing to ask you to declare moral bankruptcy and close the Heart Attack Grill.

I think you want to do the right thing. You have expressed shock and dismay about the plight of the man recently carried from your restaurant on a stretcher. Your feelings are natural, especially in light of the death of Blair River, a spokesman for your restaurant who died last year at the age of 29. River weighed 575 pounds at the time of his death from pneumonia, according to media reports. Pneumonia is a condition that can be profoundly complicated and worsened by obesity.

You’ve reeled in cash and headlines by running a restaurant with a menu featuring “Quadruple Bypass Burgers” and “Flatliner Fries” cooked in lard. You actually offer free meals to patrons who weigh over 350 pounds.

You may even think of your restaurant as an over-the-top send-up of America’s increasingly unhealthful diets. The Heart Attack Grill is certainly a more honest name than Burger King or McDonald’s. But the joke’s over. 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. It’s time to end your bizarre efforts to capitalize on obesity and clogged arteries.

The average American now eats more than 200 pounds of meat and 30 pounds of cheese a year—and 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.

The danger of meat-heavy diets is clear. In 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research reported that convincing evidence from dozens of studies supported the association between red and processed meat intake and colorectal cancer risk. In 2009, researchers with the National Cancer Institute published a study of more than half a million people showing that red and processed meat intake is associated with increased cardiovascular, cancer, and total mortality.

I don’t think you want another person carried out of your restaurant on a stretcher. Follow your conscience. Shut your doors and stop profiting from high-fat diets and human misery.


Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.


Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

Relate Link:
‘Shut It Down,’ Doctors Tell Heart Attack Grill

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