Opinion Brief

Over 350 pounds? Eat for free at the Heart Attack Grill

The obese can order "Quadruple Bypass Burgers" on the house at a proudly unhealthy Arizona restaurant. A clever marketing ploy or a dangerous joke?

The video: The Heart Attack Grill — a deliberately unhealthy Arizona restaurant where waitresses dressed as sexy nurses serve up Quadruple Bypass Burgers — has been a subject of controversy since Jon Basso, a former nutritionist and Jenny Craig employee, opened it in 2005. But the criticism grew louder recently after the restaurant hired customer Blair River to serve as its 590-pound pitchman. River's 60-second spot (watch below) spoofs weight-loss ads and promises those who weigh over 350 pounds that they can eat for free.
The reaction: This "wannabe viral video" is "irresponsible," says Eric Forney at This Dish Is Veg. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are no laughing matters." It's "obviously in jest," says Allie Townsend in Time, but given that more than 1.3 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and $316.4 billion is spent annually to combat heart disease, this restaurant's gimmick is "an unbelievable affront against the human body." Yes, "to celebrate and promote unhealthy food is terrifying," says dietitian Joy Bauer, as quoted on MSNBC, but I will admit, there is something "hilarious and different" about their marketing. Watch the ad:

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