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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE February 16, 2012

‘Shut It Down,’ Doctors Tell Heart Attack Grill

Restaurant’s Owner Urged to Declare Moral Bankruptcy After Hospitalization of Man Eating ‘Triple Bypass Burger’ and Death of 575-Pound Spokesman

WASHINGTON—The Heart Attack Grill should respond to the recent hospitalization of a patron eating a “Triple Bypass Burger” by declaring moral bankruptcy and closing up shop, says the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in a letter to the restaurant’s owner.

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.

“Bypass surgery is no joke to anyone who has lost a loved one to heart disease,” said Neal Barnard, M.D., PCRM’s president. “This latest emergency should be a wake-up call for the Heart Attack Grill. The restaurant should end its bizarre attempts to capitalize on obesity and clogged arteries and reopen with a new name and a new menu featuring heart-healthy vegan options.”

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.

For more information or an interview with Dr. Barnard, please contact Jeanne McVey at 202-527-7311 or

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.


Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

Neal Barnard, M.D.

Neal Barnard, M.D.

Related Links:

PCRM's letter to Heart Attack Grill owner John Basso

What Happens After One High-Fat Meal? (PDF)

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