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If you eat a 'double bypass burger' and get sick, whose fault is it?

One of the burgers on offer at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.


It gives new meaning to the phrase "glutton for punishment." A woman in her 40s is recovering after collapsing at a Heart Attack Grill restaurant in Las Vegas on Saturday.

An unhealthy lifestyle is the cornerstone of the restaurant's business model: Waitresses dress in nurses uniforms; customers are "patients"; the logo features the slogan "Taste... worth dying for!"; patients who weigh more than 159 kilograms (350 pounds) eat for free; and the menu features items such as the "double bypass burger."

That was the meal the woman was consuming when she collapsed at the restaurant, according to multiple media reports. She was also smoking and drinking a margarita.

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Earlier this year, a man suffered a heart attack while eating a "triple bypass burger" at the restaurant.

While the establishment uses provocative marketing to boost sales, news of these events raises real questions about how far restaurants and food manufacturers should go in promoting gluttony.

Countless restaurants offer free meals to patrons who can consume an unhealthy amount of food, such as a 72-ounce steak and sides, in a certain amount of time. Pizza Hut in the Middle East has started stuffing pizza crusts with chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. A diner in England made headlines earlier this year with its 6,000-calorie breakfast, which includes six eggs and 24 pieces of sausage and bacon.

And don't forget all-you-can-eat restaurants and popular TV series such as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which often features high-calorie, fat-laden items at restaurants around the U.S.

Are these restaurants to blame for the obesity crisis or for promoting the ideals for an unhealthy lifestyle? Should the industry be accountable for the items they serve to willing customers?

While some may argue the answer is a definitive "yes," nutrition advocate Yoni Freedhoff argues in a CTV blog post that the problem isn't Heart Attack Grill or similar establishments; it's "how normalized the practice of eating out has become."

Dr. Freedhoff argues that restaurants are simply meeting a demand for these types of items and that possible solutions require much bigger changes, including bringing Home Economics back into schools and creating public health campaigns that promote home cooking and speak of the possible harms of eating out.

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Should restaurants be held accountable for serving deliberately unhealthy food to customers?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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