Last night, I caught a few minutes of the nightly news. In a segment, they featured a newly-opened Las Vegas restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill. The menu is loaded with ultra-high calorie options (a meal can contain upwards of 8,000 calories) and, in an effort to be tongue-in-cheek, the building is modeled after a hospital. Even the waitresses are dressed as nurses.
The owner of Heart Attack Grill, Jon Basso, talks about the restaurant as a celebration of gluttony but maintains that it’s all in good fun. Indeed, life is a lot more enjoyable with a sense of humor – but is our obesity epidemic really a laughing matter? With 1 in 4 deaths caused by heart disease, and with 785,000 Americans having their first heart attack each year, I’m having a tough time seeing the joke.
In fact, Blair River, a 575-pound man and spokesman for one of Basso’s previous restaurants, died last march of obesity-related illness. Making a joke out of such a serious – and deadly – issue is, at best, in poor taste. And if we want to laugh at ourselves, weight issues and the obesity problem in this country, let’s do it in way that illuminates solutions rather than celebrates the problem.
In a way, making intentionally and dramatically poor nutritional choices – like the “flatliner fries” cooked in pure lard or a milkshake made with butter – is a defilement of our human bodies. Our bodies crave nourishing foods – and a “quadruple bypass burger” with four patties and eight slices of cheese is far from that.
Lest we forget that we only get one body in this experience of life, it’s important to treat it with respect, honor and love – rather than cramming four-days worth of calories down our throat and flooding our system with artery-clogging fat. As anyone who has lost a loved one to heart disease can attest, that America is dying of obesity is an epidemic – and not a joke.