Battle of the Deathburgers: Heart Attack Grill sues Heart Stoppers Sports Grill

Discuss

130 Responses to “Battle of the Deathburgers: Heart Attack Grill sues Heart Stoppers Sports Grill”

  1. highlyverbal says:

    Ms. Jardin,

    I wish to visit the restaurants that you frequent, where the servers are jolly and frolicking! Could we get a baseline pic of what an average server looks like, in terms of cheerful attitude and demeanor? That would be of great help in determining how much misery this particular young lady is displaying.

    Thanks!

  2. heydemann3 says:

    I wonder if anyone has sorted sucessful wieght-loosers by age. It’s much, much easier to re-set your body’s idea of a correct weight when you’re under 30, and by 35 it’s almost impossible.
    There have been studies done with prisoners who were fed highly caloric diets and gained weight-those with lower weights when eating what they wanted tended to quickly shed the extra pounds, while those who tended to overweight did not.
    And out of what mind set did all of this concern for the backs and knees of nurses spring from? Moving heavy weights is as much about proper leverage as brute force. If back problems are an issue, why not go work in the NICU, where the patients are sent home once they get up to 7 pounds?

  3. Veldcath says:

    Oh, don’t worry, Miss Jardin. You can expand “many” to mean more than you. I find it repulsive as well, and I survived public school lunches immediately following High School biology class.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve eaten at the Chandler Heart Attack Grill before. Burgers are greasy but decent. The the fries which are cooked in lard are nothing short of amazing though.

    Don’t feel bad for most of the waitresses. Its nothing more or less demeaning than hooters or any similar chain. The skimpy outfit nets them a good tip from most.

    The one exception is the poor girl by the deep fryer. She has to wear that getup to cook in and always looks like she wants to die.

  5. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    I’ll join your many, Xeni.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Really it’s just another form of eating fugu. You might die doing it but you’ll have some fun doing it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Replying to number 6, your not just having fun or going to die your burdening society. My spouse works as a nurse in the ICU at a city hospital and from stories and work related injuries obese people have become the majority. They get fat then go to the hospital nurses have to lift these patients for various reasons which in turn has increased leg and back injuries for hospital employees. My wife hasn’t been able to bend over with out experiencing pain for over a year. It just pisses me off that a person makes such a disgusting choice and then go on to try and extend their lives only to hurt the people trying to help them. Somethings wrong with our way of life when overindulgence, waste, and self-destruction are encouraged.

  7. cymk says:

    Every time I hear about the Heart Attack Grill in Arizona, I tell myself I must make it down to Chandler to try a quadruple bypass. I could care less about two business owners having a pissing match on who came up with the name and idea first, just give me the damn delicious burgers!

  8. Xopher says:

    (ok screw it, by “many” I mean “me”)

    And me. I’m pretty sure our name is legion.

    if you weigh more than 350 pounds you eat for free.

    I thought assisted suicide was illegal in Florida?

  9. botono9 says:

    So, let me get his straight… one day you’re decrying violence in Superbowl commercials (slapping and falling down being the crimes there), and the next you’re chuckling about elderly people shooting themselves?

    Pot, kettle, black, as they say.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      @botono9, It’s not funny that some 80 year old guy shot himself at a gun store. The manner in which this incident was covered by the local news station is weird and campy and macabre. And no one, certainly not me, was outraged over violence in the Super Bowl commercials. Again, the post was a tongue-in-cheek or roll-of-eye observation of media. I don’t give a shit about the super bowl, or people hurting themselves in Doritos ads, but that video was awesome.

  10. Anonymous says:

    She doesn’t look “sad” to me. She looks like she’s

    a) looking away from the camera

    and

    b) not smiling.

    Really, service workers shouldn’t have to grin like crazy people every millisecond of every day.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hamburgers as Heart Attack food…..kid stuff.

    If they were really serious they would serve “Pork Brains in Milk Gravy” a single serving, contains 3500 milligrams of cholesterol, 1170% of the USRDA.

  12. lewis stoole says:

    you guys do know that ladled pig fat is actually used like a condiment on these burgers? and that the buns are physically dunked in pig fat? obscenely large burgers??? nope, just plain ol’ obscene.

  13. Chava says:

    Without adding to the drama, add me to the Xeni’s post came of ass judgmental en offensive.

    Seriously not trolling, just honest feedback.

  14. Chrs says:

    Why does she look so sad? Personally, I would feel bad about so blatantly violating “First, do no harm”.

    “I am totally feeding these people premature death on a plate.”

  15. Chava says:

    *off *as…

    Sigh… I guess preview is there for a reason.

  16. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Shouldn’t the wait staff match the demographic/product by being over 350 lbs? Maybe she’s sad because she’s about to get fired for being underweight.

  17. mgfarrelly says:

    As one of the “Many” can I just hope both of these businesses spiraling legal costs in their race to the very bottom of the barrel wipes them out?

    Gross. Weird and gross.

  18. michaelk says:

    Wait, omnifrog is a concern troll? But this post itself isn’t basically a concern trolling in the first place?

    I call shenanigans.

  19. Evil Lyle says:

    This has been a pretty interesting thread about a topic I have some interest in. Here’s some personal observations and experiences that might be of interest:

    - I was running about 25 lbs over weight from about the age of 25 to 33 in spite of being very active (mix of aerobic and non-aerobic training approx 8 hours per week). I then made an effort to change eating habits (kick-started by South Beach diet) and took off 25 lbs. I now eat a pretty similar diet to what I did when I was overweight (probably a bit less alcohol) but have maintained a stable, thin bodyweight for about 5 years. I think that our bodies find an equilibrium weight level based on what kind of food intake they get used to and then tend to stay there. I needed a period of about 5-6 months to take off the weight and get used to it during which time I was very careful with carbs. Previous attempts to shed weight weren’t successful but since then I eat what my appetite tells me to (including carbs) and not have my weight fluctuate. I am a lot less active now as well.
    - I have lived outside the US (where I was raised) for quite a while now (Europe and Asia) and you don’t tend to see as many overweight people (even in the UK) as you do in the US- so while I think that there is a genetic element or predisposition to becoming overweight I think it is a smaller part compared to behavior. I think a lot of this comes down to portion size and meal habits. People don’t seem to snack as often in the countries I’ve lived in and visited and tend to eat at more regular times. The UK seems more like the US in their eating habits (although not quite as extreme) and this probably explains why Brits are a bit heavier than other Europeans but not to the extent of us Americans.
    - There is also this silver bullet mentality that food marketers often apply to health issues in the States that I think is detrimental. This food has flavinoids so it is healthy and you should eat lots of it! This food has good cholesterol so no problem with eating it! Which distracts us from fundamentals like- how much are you eating? What is it really made of? How often do you eat? The unfortunate truth is that a lot of the conventional wisdom on food comes from people trying to sell us things (could be foods themselves or diet plans, supplements)- no one makes money out of helping people to understand what’s in their food and how to prepare and enjoy it.
    - I think that if you focus more on eating healthy, balanced fresh meals of sufficient amounts at mealtimes and reduce manufactured foods and between meal snacking- and stay aware of consequences of eating choices (for example that buckets of “coffee” drinks at places like starbucks have loads of calories) you can enjoy food without having to obsess over calories- but in my case I first needed to shock and then retrain my system…

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why is she sad? She’s WORKING IN A BURGER JOINT!

    You’d be sad, too.

  21. Mitch says:

    It looks like Heart Stoppers Grill imported a couple of East European porn actresses to be nurses on it’s web site. Sue them for misrepresentation!

  22. omnifrog says:

    Once again, the liberal hipsters in the boingboing community show that they are tolerant of everything… except for fat people and the right of people to decide what to do with their bodies.

    Restaurants like this exist for the same reason that gay pride parades bring out gay people in sequins and purple feather boas, after reading posts like this one and the associated comments, the idea of going somewhere that’s on the extreme of accepting actually sounds really nice. I’d consider going to these places, and I’m a fat vegetarian who biked 20 miles yesterday.

    Xeni, I bet if you had been with a different set of genes, your life would be very different.

    • stegodon says:

      i don’t think this works as mimetic subversion. it’s too morbid.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      @omnifrog, concern trolling has no place here.

      Have you forgotten that these are businesses?

      The notion that this post is hostile to obese or overweight people is ridiculous. So is the notion that I’m making fun of meat-eaters.

      The idea that either of these restaurants are analagous to a gay pride or fat pride community gathering is the biggest LOL I’ve had today.

      Their marketing, in my opinion, is not “accepting” of large people, but exploitative of their condition. I have relatives who weigh that much, and I love and respect and do not judge their bodies. The idea of a loved one being paraded onto a scale in public to receive food is the basest form of mockery I can imagine.

      • mgfarrelly says:

        Right on.

        I’m not skinny by any means, and I find these restaurants gross, mean-spirited and morbid. It’s a bunch of jerks making fat jokes and having a laugh about cardiac patients. How that’s analogous to gay pride is beyond me.

        Also, WPBF makes me think of Perry Bible Fellowship, a comic almost as weird as these restaurants. But in a good way!

      • Cnoocy says:

        Xeni, I agree with what you’re saying in this reply, but on first read, I also failed to notice that it was the food and the concept you were calling “repulsive” and not the 350-pound customers. It didn’t help that some of the early commenters seemed to have made the same mistake I did and had the opposite reaction.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are right that this isn’t similar to a gay pride parade but it is similar to a flamboyantly themed gay bar which is also a business.

        Being able to go to a place that caters to your demographic is a service. I’m not sure Omnifrogs comment was pure trolling. Fat people can eat anywhere but an eatery that is themed and targeted at the heavy is a service.

        How is that different than a gaybar that advertises drag shows as an attraction? With the insulting assumption here being that all gay people like drag.

        If you were using this post to point out the how these businesses are exploiting the overweight you really didn’t do that.

      • omnifrog says:

        Xeni,

        I wanted to respond earlier but I’ve been on a call for far too long and comment #34 by @Cnoocy says what I wanted to say.

        I shouldn’t have attacked you quite so personally. But to give you some insight into how I see the world, I bike probably 30 miles in the SF area on any given (non-rainy) weekend and during almost every ride, someone in a passing car yells something about me being fat on a bike. It happened particularly viciously yesterday.

        If you read many of the comments here, on this article and others, there is absolutely an association drawn between obesity and laziness or any other negative stereotypes. It does grow tiresome. And so I am probably predisposed not only to obesity, but also towards having a hair-trigger towards posts on this topic.

        Interestingly, from a research standpoint, I see a breakdown between two groups exploring the subject of obesity. On one hand there are nutrition researchers, policy makers (see the Rudd Center at Yale), and Michael Pollan who have one point of view, one that is absolutist. On the other hand, you have geneticists and biochemists, as well as some nutrition researchers from decades past with a different point of view. The former group is much better at getting press than the latter group, even if many of their theories are not supported by as much evidence.

        I would very much appreciate it if bb.net would cover some of the interesting work being done by researchers in the trenches. I’d love to see Gina Kolata, Paul Campos, or Sandy Szwarc be a guest on BB. I think these people could very easily challenge some beliefs that seem to be deeply held by readers here.

  23. Jamie Sue says:

    Theme restaurants are funny. I have no problem with them. What I don’t understand is why the owner of a restaurant in Arizona would feel threatened by a similar restaurant in Florida. They don’t share even remotely the same client base. It seems frivolous and vain.

    • lewis stoole says:

      @jamie sue #73: maybe he believes it will turn into the next hooters franchise and wants to branch out? maybe it is just pride?

  24. za7ch says:

    If one can sue a company for WORST WEBSITE EVER then I think Heart Stoppers Sports Grill should get sued the hell up.

  25. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Scarequotes on the word nurse, and “(None of the people shown below are actual nurses, nor do they have any medical training)” didn’t scream porn actress? :D

  26. Anonymous says:

    people, people, let’s be reasonable here. isn’t the world big enough for TWO heart attack themed grills? it’s not like they’re across the street from each other.

  27. endymion says:

    Maybe she’s sad because her father, or a favorite uncle, died of a heart attack. Chances are she knows someone.

    What’s wrong with people?

  28. za7ch says:

    “I’d consider going to these places, and I’m a fat vegetarian who biked 20 miles yesterday.”

    What a sec… what exactly would you eat?

  29. Cowicide says:

    Here you can see the grill in action on TV and check out some nurse ass too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbKRSYAuSNg

    • robulus says:

      Great link cowicide.

      I think that puts the place in perspective, and I note most of the customers there were actually pretty average size.

      It seems like somewhere you’d go for a one-off indulgence and a laugh, the whole thing would be a little rich more often than that.

      Culturally we get bombarded with health warnings in one ear and fast food ads in the other. I actually kind of dig their comment on the whole thing, they are unambiguous. Compare that to McDonalds who are struggling to get a foot in both camps.

      But a one off, for sure.

      • Cowicide says:

        Thanks. I think if more people watched that video they’d have a better perspective of the place. To me it’s a place that Denis Leary would come up with in one of his rants/routines (or better yet, Bill Hicks). It’s a middle finger to political correctness and maybe even a statement of sorts on the extreme absurdity of American life.

        Would I go in there? Nah. But then again, I don’t fancy Hooter’s nor strip clubs for that matter (I don’t care how much succulent lard they serve).

        ———-

        To those of you who thought Xeni was trying to be mean to obese people, I suggest you go back and read her history. That sort of behavior would be completely out of her character and you should know better.

  30. pestcontrol1 says:

    All waitresses should be dressed as nurses

  31. LYNDON says:

    In the circumstances, I think people can be forgiven for missing the accepting-of-naturally-fat-people aspects of the venue due to the celebrating-how-bad-for-you-their-food-is thing. And surely the combination is not ideal?

  32. theLadyfingers says:

    Why is any any surprise that companies can trade on the perceived political incorrectness of their menus when food has become so politicised?

    I’m the first to rant about bad food, but I think this is at least truth in advertising. There are a lot of things wrong with Big Ag and the industrial byproducts used to tastify the effluvium used to make cheap food, but to have a laugh and stuff one’s face with junk every now and then is my definition of a healthy prerogative. I’d rather die young of a quick pleasure-induced coronary than witter away my last decades in a home with no control over my mind and body.

    I recall “Death” cigarettes a few years ago. Black box, skull and crossbones. A white lie about “truth in advertising” fronting for the perceived coolness in flirting with mortality. I’m all for it. Freedom of choice, everything’s bad for you, life’s a terminal disease, etc. Do whatever it takes to make the trip to the end a pleasant one for yourself and others. Certainly being Mother Grundy is neither.

    Oh, I’m no completely mindless hedonist. I’m thin. I exercise, and I eat healthy food except when I don’t feel like it. The thing that keeps me in check is that overindulging too frequently makes me feel thoroughly unwell, and if I have to unbutton my trousers to sit down then I skip meals, which makes me a) hungry as hell and b) the food after the fast that much more satisfying.

  33. Frank W says:

    Bonus Darwin Award points if those two joints litigate each other into oblivion. Yay!

  34. Anonymous says:

    Guys! Be real, here! HAG is a giant joke… a tourist trap set up for us to laugh at, classic gallows humor tightly coupled with biting social commentary, and a deadly delicious burger. Everybody should experience their food once in a lifetime… just don’t go back every Saturday night, is all.

    Oh, and in real life the nurses don’t look at all sad. The ones I met there were laughing their asses off the entire time they were poisoning us.

  35. nanuq says:

    Is there an automatic defibrillator on site? Just wondering.

  36. Zadaz says:

    What gets you most is a ‘sad’ sexy nurse waitress, while an 80 year-old shooting himself on the street is “pretty rockin’”

    That pairing right there upsets me more than anything I’ve heard all year.

  37. foobar says:

    @Antinous

    If you’re hungry all the time, I don’t imagine you’re doing yourself any good. You certainly won’t be able to sustain that behaviour. I don’t eat rabbit food, nor do I go hungry.

    I bought into the biological imperative myth for a long time. It’s seductive, and hearing it repeated only makes it more so.

    • omnifrog says:

      @foobar

      Software for diets has been around for a while. A particularly nerdy diet that I’ve enjoyed was “The Hackers Diet.” http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/online/

      Again, I’m not arguing that weight loss can’t occur. Just that there are biological reasons that make every pound more difficult to lose than the one before it, after the first 20 or so. And that these same control systems operate over long periods of time. Stick a fat person in a room and don’t feed them, and I promise they’ll lose weight. Do the same thing with calorie restriction and get the same result. But there are often significant biological changes that occur while you are doing such things. I’m about to go to sleep, so I’m not up for a research project right now, but something in here might work:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

      I have lost a lot of weight counting calories. My skinny friends use me as their nutrition resource because I generally know how many calories something has and at one point could probably recite the entire plan for 3 different diets from memory. But after losing a ton, I was actually gaining weight at 1800 calories a day. And I was starving much of the time. The real question isn’t can I lose weight – I can. But why do some people show biological signs of hunger when their weight drops below a certain amount that is still considered high compared to others.

      I also submit that my height analogy is very relevant to many of the arguments being put forth for childhood obesity and its relationship to adult obesity (the idea that controlling childhood obesity will impact adult obesity has not been shown yet.)

  38. Talia says:

    Deathburger = great band name.

    Someone get on this.

  39. Spinkter says:

    Hold the bun, and hold the sugar, and I’m there. It’s the carbs that do the killing, not the saturated fat.

    I could probably also do without the miserable waitress.

    • japroach says:

      Yeah damn those carbs! They are the true killers.

      I guess red meat eaters having a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer is just a coincidence.

      • Spinkter says:

        Citations, please.

        • japroach says:

          http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/23/healthmag.red.meat.lifespan/index.html

          “Over a 10-year period, people who ate the most red meat every day (about 62.5 grams per 1,000 calories per day, equivalent to a quarter-pound burger or small steak per day) had about a 30 percent greater risk of dying compared with those who consumed the least amount of red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day). The excess mortality was mostly the result of cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_meat#Health_risks

          • Spinkter says:

            OK, here we go

            All together now: What else where they eating besides red (or white) meat? What else was in their diet? The article doesn’t mention anything else about their diets other than the red meat, so we don’t have anything close to a complete story.

            If the study itself focused on a single element of a diet and didn’t take complete dietary intake into account, then it suffers from observational bias — as most of these worthless studies do.

            Try again.

  40. nexusheli says:

    I will not join the ‘many’, I am the few, the proud, the eaters!

    I just placed 3rd in a 12-minute pizza eating contest; most slices in 12-minutes or whoever finishes 2 large (16″) cheese pizzas first. I ate an entire pie and was just picking up my first slice of pie #2 at about the 10-minute mark when the winner finished his 2nd pie.

    I’ve been meaning to make a trip to the HAG.

    By the way, I’m 5’11″ and weigh a healthy 165lbs.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Fat isn’t unhealthy. It’s the sugars (carbs) that kill you. A greasy steak is fine. The fries and the Coke kills you.

  42. theLadyfingers says:

    Oh, I didn’t see much beyond amusement in the original post.

  43. dross1260 says:

    miserable waitresses = no
    Polly Holliday = yes

  44. Antinous / Moderator says:

    “Repulsive” is, in my experience, a word like that for fat people.

    I rebut your argument, Sir or Madam.

    • Cnoocy says:

      I’m not stating that “repulsive” is only used to talk about fat people. I’m stating that it is often used to describe fat bodies, to such an extent that if you’re not intending to put down fat people, you may be more successful at communicating that as a writer if you avoid using that word in an article about fatness.

      • arkizzle / Moderator says:

        Cnoocy,

        I’m stating that it is often used to describe fat bodies..

        It’s often used to describe many, many things. And I think you’re reaching, to suggest that the word repulsive has some special connection with obese people, and to then base your offense upon it.

        Maybe the word has that significance to you, but I’m not sure it’s as universal as you’re making out.

  45. lewis stoole says:

    corporate deathburger, ronald mcdonald
    this looks like a place where the owner couldn’t decide whether he wanted a burger joint, or a strip club, so he combined the two–classy!

  46. Halloween Jack says:

    Wow, lots of people got their buttons pushed here. I don’t see what the big freaking deal is, unless there’s a whole bunch of folks that go apoplectic every time they pass a Hardee’s/Carl Jr. And what about all those places that let you have your five-pound burger if you finish it in an hour, or something similar? Someone wants to kill themselves with food (and I am saying this as someone who is currently under a supervised diet/exercise regime), more power to ‘em. The big shock for me here is that it’s still possible to get unfiltered Lucky Strikes.

  47. slywy says:

    Let’s begin with the stereotyping. Not everyone who’s fat eats nasty, fatty food. Unless you consider tuna heart attack on a plate.

    Some of us are born fat and stay fat because we really are programmed that way. I have friends who eat huge hunks of animal flesh between slabs of carbohydrates and who remain thin because they’re programmed that way.

    As for these restaurants, gross, just gross.

    Give me an heirloom tomato salad with vinaigrette any day. And then tell people THAT’S obviously why I’m so fat.

  48. Anonymous says:

    hey, i have a lot of fat friends…

  49. bishophicks says:

    I don’t really care that such places exist, I just think of it as yet another restaurant I won’t go to. I couldn’t eat a burger with one of those patties. When did 1/3 pound burgers become the standard in the non fast food joints, with many places going to 1/2 pound or more? Why does every lunch and dinner option seem to start at 1100 calories?

    I would pay good money for an exquisitely delicious, 3-4oz burger with a sane portion of hand cut double (or triple) cooked fries. You can have your Monster Thickburgers and your ‘This Shit is Really Bad For You’ themed restaurants. I will spend my dollars at restaurants that offer normal meal-sized portions of great food at a good price. Just as soon as I can find some.

  50. bfarn says:

    Gotta say that I “weigh in” on the that-place-is-fun side of the aisle. I’ve been there, and its tone really isn’t mean spirited or exploitative. There were some very fat people there and some very skinny people there, and a bunch of sexy nurses, everybody having a grand ol’ time. You mention the scale being horrifying and humiliating. What I saw was a huge dude with a huge grin on his face, surrounded by cheering patrons and sexy nurses, standing on that scale and having the time of his life. The only person looking sad there was the guy running the deep fryer towards the back – and who could blame him? Also, yes, their burger is damned good.

  51. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Obesity ‘often set before age of two’

    A study of more than 100 obese children and teenagers found more than half were overweight by 24 months and 90% were overweight by the age of five. A quarter were overweight before they were five months old, the researchers reported in Clinical Pediatrics…They added that food preferences may be set by the age of two, so changing a child’s eating behaviour at a later stage may be difficult.

  52. IamInnocent says:

    What boggles the mind is the cohabitation of self-satisfied fat asses and sexy waitresses who are, obviously, forbidden any of that food, in any significant quantity at least. How do the latter manage to not loathe the former? They shouldn’t be able to avoid it and, yet, I bet that they find a way not to. Need the work to survive? That has to be most depressing.

    • jackie31337 says:

      “What boggles the mind is the cohabitation of self-satisfied fat asses and sexy waitresses who are, obviously, forbidden any of that food, in any significant quantity at least. How do the latter manage to not loathe the former?”

      In high school I worked as a cashier at a fast food restaurant that used lard for all its deep frying. After spending my shifts absorbing aerosolized lard through my skin, I quickly lost my appetite for french fries, and anything fried for that matter. The food is not as tempting when you can’t get away from it for hours on end. I suspect the waitresses at these places probably feel the same.

      In general, I think these places are refreshingly honest in the same was as cigarette package warnings that say “smoking can kill you”. They know their food is bad for you, and they make no pretense about it. No consumer with even a few functioning brain cells is going to mistake their food for something healthy. Better this than “crispy bacon ranch chicken salad” at a fast-food place, which I’m sure many people mistakenly think is good for them because it’s a salad.

  53. mkultra says:

    I would share my thoughts about the tone of this post, but I suspect that I would also be labelled a “concern troll”. Look over my commenting history if you like and see if you really think that label fits me.

    I will say however that fat people are the last group it’s cool to diss in this country. It’s just so damn easy to generalize, and the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?

    • Cowicide says:

      fat people are the last group it’s cool to diss in this country.

      I personally prefer whipping up on midgets with rubber hoses.

    • cornballer says:

      “I will say however that fat people are the last group it’s cool to diss in this country.”

      What about smokers and drunks?! Are they not fair game? If so, is it because it’s a controllable illness and therefore considered a weakness of said person? Could these illnesses, if left untreated, not turn in to a huge drain on our health care system?

      This is not (entirely) rhetorical. I’d be interest in a response, if you’re up for it..

      • omnifrog says:

        While there is evidence that addictive personalities are in fact genetic, one can live without alcohol and cigarettes. Obesity is different. For starters, one can not live without food. But more importantly, weight, beyond a small amount that can be controlled, has been shown to have a genetic component that is as significant as height.

        Essentially, from a genetics point of view, a fat person has as much control over their weight as a black person does over the color of their skin. Studies performed over periods greater than 5 years confirm this, for something like 70% of cases. Studies looking at ghrelin also confirm this.

        • foobar says:

          @omnifrog

          You’re wrong on the genetics, or at least extremely hyperbolic. No one is stuck fat. It does take dedication and a great deal of time to lose weight, and no one deserves abuse for not doing doing it, but anyone can.

          No amount of dedication will change one’s skin colour, height, or sexual orientation.

          • omnifrog says:

            @foobar The same could be said about height. There’s been an increase in height over even the last 20 or so years. We do know how to make people shorter. Malnutrition during childhood can accomplish that quite nicely.

            I specifically talked about 5 year studies because in the short term many people do lose weight. In the long term, the number of people who successfully keep a large amount of weight off is quite low. Yes, you and I would probably agree that if you put a fat person in a room, locked the door, and stopped feeding them, they’ll lose weight. This question needs to be answered over a longer period of time. And in that case, the results aren’t so good. Gina Kolata, a science reporter for the NYT, speaks about this in “Rethinking Thin.”

            Also, some would claim that people can change their gender preference. I’m not one of them. But the case has been made, even by people who’ve claimed it’s worked for them. I’m merely pointing out that this is not where you want to take this debate.

          • foobar says:

            @omnifrog: Malnutrition induced shortness isn’t reversible in adulthood. Obesity is.

            I was a fat kid (and fat adult), and I’m still a bit overweight, but it is controllable. I’ve been consistently losing 2-3 kg/month for the last year. I started with a morbidly obese BMI, dropped through obese, and am now about halfway through overweight.

            I used to feel the way you do, but I Did Science To It (TM), and found I was wrong.

          • omnifrog says:

            @foobar

            I’m not claiming that weight loss is impossible. Just that, statistically speaking, long term weight loss is extraordinarily difficult. And that people like you are actually extreme outliers.

            Kelly Brownell, the head of the Rudd Center at Yale has pretty much written off adult obesity as a lost cause. They mostly focused their efforts on obesity prevention, because they feel it might be the only way to make a statistically significant impact. I don’t actually agree with their approach, but it does represent a real point of view.

            When I was in Singapore last year, I watched as skinny people ate as many as 8 meals a day. I’ve never seen food consumption on such a scale. Yes you are dieting and yes you’ve lost a ton of weight, but I’m still curious as to what makes you different than the Singaporeans.

          • foobar says:

            @omnifrog

            Difficult isn’t the right word. It doesn’t take any particular talent or skill. It is a bit of work, but primarily it just takes a lot of time, with very little positive feedback.

            That, I think, is why so few manage to do it, and why so few of those that do manage to maintain it. You don’t lose (or gain) weight fast enough to really associate behaviour with results, nor do you really even get a clear picture of your behaviour if your not tracking it.

            I’ve got a log of everything I’ve eaten in the last year, as well as daily weighings, and I’ve written software both to help me do that and to turn the data into something I can see. In that I’m an outlier, sure, but the behaviour isn’t that hard and the software can be shared.

          • omnifrog says:

            @foobar

            Difficult is exactly the right word. When I linked to studies of statistically significant numbers of people, I specifically pointed out that the interesting data comes after the first 6 months. I didn’t look too hard to find the study, but the really interesting data is at 5 years. I can’t remember the exact numbers off the top of my head, but of people who’ve lost a large amount of weight, it’s a low single digit percentage who’ve kept it off after 5 years.

            There are a number of reasons for this, including hormones such as ghrelin spiking as high as they do for people starving in developing countries. Also, the caloric efficiency of the body frequently shoots up as weight loss occurs.

            I’m not saying you can’t do it. Or that weight loss is impossible. What I am saying is that it’s as difficult for a fat person to lose weight as it is for most people to become a PhD student at MIT. With hard work, it may be possible – for anyone. But the chances are really low. And we don’t blame most people for not having a PhD in engineering. Yeah, it’s a crappy analogy, but I hope I’m driving my point home… that your individual success does not affect my argument… first of all due to the time factor, but also due to the fact that even if you are successful (and I sincerely hope you are – being fat really sucks) case studies do not trump statistically significant aggregate data.

          • foobar says:

            @omnifrog:

            I don’t think we’re using the word the same way. It doesn’t take any particular skill or talent, in the way that earning a PhD necessarily would. MIT bars the majority from even attempting to qualify for one of their PhD’s.

            Your arguments suggest that most people do not successfully lose and keep off weight, not that they can not. Statistically significant data is better at measuring the former, but case studies are better (for practical reasons) at demonstrating the latter.

            It does take a bit of work, but not extremely so. Quite the opposite, heroic efforts will be counterproductive, as they can’t be maintained. The real challenge is that it takes a great deal of time. Longer than people can really manage unassisted. As I said above, I’m losing 2-3 kg/month, but you will not notice that difference; your body image will keep up with the loss.

            The other bit is that you almost certainly don’t know how much you’re eating, let alone how it’s fluctuated over time. It’s just not the sort of thing you can do in your head. Working that out manually would be prohibitively difficult, I’ll grant. I’ve written software to do it for me.

            If you’d like to see my data and tools, shoot me an email (it’s in my profile here). It’s all web based, but I don’t think I’m allowed to link it here.

        • Itsumishi says:

          Essentially, from a genetics point of view, a fat person has as much control over their weight as a black person does over the color of their skin.

          I’m sorry but this simply is false. I’m not saying genetics don’t play a part in the disposition of whether you are likely to have to work hard to stay slim or be lucky (like myself) and be able to eat whatever you want without stressing about weight.

          However stating that controlling your weight is the same as controlling your skin colour is insulting to the people who do have to work hard to stay slim.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I think that y’all aren’t reading enough science articles. There is a genetic predisposition to deposit fat. Maternal metabolism does switch that gene(s) on or off. Your mother’s choices may have more impact on your BMI than your diet.

            This quest to blame is tedious.

          • Itsumishi says:

            I’m not saying genetics don’t play a part in the disposition of whether you are likely to have to work hard to stay slim or be lucky (like myself) and be able to eat whatever you want without stressing about weight.

            There is a genetic predisposition to deposit fat. Maternal metabolism does switch that gene(s) on or off.

            Looks like we’re in agreement then. Regardless, someone genetically dispositioned to deposit fat can still control their weight, albeit with a lot more effort than someone line myself.

            Someone with black skin can’t work really really hard and turn white without resorting to cosmetic surgery. Comparing the two is a complete crock.

            Not blaming anyone.

          • blueelm says:

            Not to mention that there’s fat, fat, and fat in our culture. I’m 5’10″ and weigh about 140 and I feel like a pig. Every day I enter my calories into a calorie tracker and feel tremendous guilt because most days I eat a cookie or something like that somewhere along the line. It’s miserable.

            To be frank, I don’t know how “healthy” that is. But I will be this way always and I know that.

            Yes, eating so much that you shorten your life by 20 years and destroy the back of healthcare workers as they try to save you is horrible. And yet in our haste to blame the “lazy fatsos” dragging America down it seems the last thing we’re really concerned about is quality of life.

          • omnifrog says:

            @blueelm

            Well put. Rebecca Puhl at the Rudd Center at Yale has done some interesting research into the quality of life of fat people. Also, in the NYT review of Gina Kolata’s book, there’s the following quote:

            For those determined to foil biology, strict dieting is a life sentence. “I am a fat man in a thin man’s body,” an M.I.T. obesity researcher who shed his unwanted pounds years ago tells Kolata.

          • Cnoocy says:

            Actually, there has been some research that finds that dieting, and the weight oscillation it inevitably produces, is significantly worse for your health than being “overweight”.

          • Ben says:

            Antinous – Would you consider providing a link to some of the studies that you’re citing? With a high possibility that my wife and I have a child on the way soon, more information about maternal diet and gene triggers would be much appreciated. Thanks! (As much as I might wish otherwise, I may not have the time to wrap my head around the inaccessible search results I’m finding on the topic: for example, studies on the “genetic basis of congenital generalized lipodystrophy” and “maternal lipid metabolism and placental lipid transfer.”)

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Honey, I Plumped the Kids

            Experiments like this have found that pregnant females (rats) with access to junk food ate, on a daily basis, roughly 40 percent more food (by weight) and 56 percent more calories than rats that just had chow. Moreover — and this is the interesting bit — pups whose mothers ate junk food while pregnant and lactating had a greater taste for food high in fat and sugar than those whose mothers did not. The junk-food pups ate more calories and were more prone to gaining weight.

            Higher Maternal Sugar Levels Increases Risk Of Childhood Obesity

            The largest study of its kind, this research shows that the risk of childhood obesity rises in tandem with a pregnant woman’s blood sugar level and that untreated gestational diabetes nearly doubles a child’s risk of becoming obese by age 5 to 7.

            I think that we”l eventually describe both diabetes and some types of obesity as something like Insulin Spectrum Disorders.

        • arkizzle / Moderator says:

          omnifrog,

          In a non-challenging way, have you got links to those studies?

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I’ve seen a variety of studies about weight, genetics and environment. It certainly looks like your mother’s eating habits during pregnancy (and in general) will have a big impact on your fat-depositing predilections. I suspect that obesity will eventually be viewed as similar to diabetes: partly genetic, partly triggered by maternal preconditions and partly affected by one’s own diet and exercise habits.

          • arkizzle / Moderator says:

            You talkin’ about my mother?

            /OnTopic: interesting.

          • omnifrog says:

            There have been a number of twin studies on obesity. This isn’t the one I was looking for, but I hope it puts a bit of doubt in your mind:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8856394

            Here’s a newspaper article about another study that also is using the 70% number:

            http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article1647517.ece

            Here are some studies that look at different types of adipose tissue and see a relationship between brown adipose tissue and BMI.

            http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/360/15/1509

            This is a 2 year study on over 800 people comparing different diets. They were given counseling sessions and a whole lot of support:

            http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/360/9/859

            Of interest to note is Fig 2. 6 months in, all participants lost a large amount of weight. But then the trend for the next 18 months is actually upward. Trust me, there isn’t a fat person in the study who didn’t want to lose their weight and keep it off. Also, look at how small the weight loss was, in absolute terms.

            I don’t have access to this article, but it does cite “More than 100 genes have been implicated in the determination of body weight”

            http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/extract/359/24/2603

            And I was just searching the NEJM.

            What I’m saying is that things are more complex than they appear on the surface.

          • arkizzle / Moderator says:

            I hope it puts a bit of doubt in your mind..

            To be sure, omnifrog, I asked in interest. I have no doubt genetics are involved.

            Thanks for the links.

          • omnifrog says:

            Regarding links to studies:

            Yes… but I’m at work right now. Will post tonight when I have a bit more time.

        • stegodon says:

          are you contending, then, that the genes that you state are responsible for obesity are, somehow, being expressed more frequently in recent decades? i am not trying to troll you, i am legitimately curious about how genetics could account for the vast increase in average BMI over the last few decades (in the US, for the sake of discussion).

          • jackie31337 says:

            “are you contending, then, that the genes that you state are responsible for obesity are, somehow, being expressed more frequently in recent decades? i am not trying to troll you, i am legitimately curious about how genetics could account for the vast increase in average BMI over the last few decades (in the US, for the sake of discussion).”

            I have a theory that there are a few things contributing to this: people move less (get into the car in the garage, park as close to the door as possible at your destination), people generally do less physical work (more people in desk jobs, and we have appliances for the things people used to do by hand, like washing dishes and laundry), and food is more abundantly available to the average person than is has been over most of human history. For most of human history, being able to put on weight and keep it on was an advantage: it meant you didn’t starve when food became scarce. The problem is, (in places where there is a high incidence of obesity) food is anything but scarce these days. People and their genes haven’t changed, the resources available have changed.

          • omnifrog says:

            @stegodon,

            Actually, I’m not claiming that genes are being expressed more frequently. There are actually two different issues that get confused when we talk about the “obesity epidemic.”

            1) There has been an average weight gain across the american population of somewhere between 7 and 9 lbs. There are many debates as to why this has happened and of particular interest, why it’s happened disproportionately in some communities. In other words, this is not a trivial issue when we look at the details. But on the surface, what this has done is to shift the bell curve for weight distribution over a bit, making a few 10s of millions of people fall into a weight bin a bit higher than where they were before. There is a debate as to whether or not this is truly unhealthy. There are studies, including a large american one as well as a more recent canadian one that suggest this might not be a really big deal. But I’ll let you decide if it sounds like a giant deal to you.

            2) The other is that there are really fat people. We can define them by BMI or waist circumference, or body fat %, but really you know the type of people I’m talking about – I’m probably considered one of them. The question here is why some people have the ability to put on far more weight than others. I’ve weighed over 300lbs while exercising for 3 hours a day and eating no meat (currently, my goal is to bike approximately 100miles a week and do some weight training.) I’m wondering why I weigh so much when my 100lb friend doesn’t exercise much at all and quite literally eats 3 entrees when she goes out. I’m just happy I don’t have to pay her food bill. It probably costs more than my health insurance.

            The model being proposed is that we do have some control over our weight – that 20lbs or so up or down is pretty easy to accomplish by changing eating habits. The problem is that losing 40lbs is not like losing 20lbs twice. Ghrelin levels spike and it seems like some kind of feedback loop is engaged when people lose a large amount of weight. I’ll try to find more of the studies and post them below.

    • arkizzle / Moderator says:

      mkultra,

      The tone of the post?

      I’m stumped as to how anyone read this post as anti-obese-people. Some clearly did though.. Maybe they brought their own knee-jerks to the party.

      Do you honestly think Xeni (read her comment history) meant to call out obese people? Is that the sort of thing you’ve come to expect from her posts (for it to be both your first reaction, and your reasoned conclusion)?

      • mkultra says:

        arkizzle,

        Yes, the tone of the post.

        You’re making the assumption that I was bothered by Xeni’s perceived anti-obese bias. This isn’t correct. What bothered me is the holier-than-thou, oh-how-dare-you-people-enjoy-foods-I-don’t-approve-of approach. I mean, do you really think that what people are getting at the Burger Kings and Carl’s jr’s across the nation are really any better for you? It seems to me that the crime being committed here in so many people’s eyes is that they’re eating this food, and not having the decency to pretend that it’s good for you, and not showing enough shame for enjoying it. Well screw that.

        The moral high horse is just disgusting. As far as the “sad” waitress? She’s looking down because she’s taking an order. Ease up on the pop psychology, even if it means interrupting the convenient narrative you’ve already written in your mind. She’s working at a fast food restaurant, what do you want, a shit-eating grin?

        And you know what, if I want to eat stuff that’s really bad for me once in a while, that’s my business, not yours. It’s entirely possible for an otherwise healthy person to indulge once in a while, if Xeni finds it repulsive or not.

        I have read Xeni’s posts: I’m guessing 98% of them over the last 5 years, and this twee “repulsion” is entirely consistent with her history. I may not have said anything about it before, but I wasn’t usually quite this annoyed. I agree with her on almost every subject, but this isn’t one.

        As for my other comments about mocking the fat, they were directed at the other holier-than-thou posters above (no doubt wearing skinny hipster jeans). I apologize for not making the distinction.

        …and if you’re going to disemvowel me, at least recognize as you do it that the only reason I’m putting this post in at all is because you asked for clarification.

      • wylkyn says:

        Really. Are you guys so sheltered that a couple of gallows-humor themed restaurants send you into a tizzy? And I’m sorry, arkizzle, but I think the post and comments come off as condescending. By labeling the product as “obscene” you label the customers, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. By putting forth the idea that overweight people need protection from manipulative marketing (I don’t see these restaurants as such – quite the opposite in fact) you suggest that those people are helpless and in need of your protection. If that’s not condescending, I’d like to know what is.

        Just my opinion, for what it’s worth. Not trying to be another “concern troll” or whatever. But I’ve tried to see the other side of this issue, and all I can glean from it is a bunch of people saying “Eww…gross!”

        • arkizzle / Moderator says:

          wylkyn,

          There is a difference in “labeling [a] product as ‘obscene’”, and describing a hamburger as “obscenely large”. You might say semantics, but I disagree.

          The post isn’t remotely as judgemental as you’re making out. The first paragraph describes the setup fairly neutrally, unless you’re ears had already pricked up to expect offense. And the second half is Xeni’s personal feelings on the matter. She’s not into it, and thinks the nurse looks sad.

          • Cnoocy says:

            The content of the post isn’t judgmental about fat people, and does always reserve its attacks for the restaurant and its food. But you know how there are words that are more often used by people prejudiced against certain groups? “Miserly” for Jews, for example. “Repulsive” is, in my experience, a word like that for fat people. So when I read “I find… repulsive” in a story connected to the “obesity epidemic” in any way, my immediate assumption is that the poster isn’t particularly well-inclined toward fatness.

  54. Spinkter says:

    Oh, and citing Wikipedia…, please.

    • Itsumishi says:

      Citing wikipedia is a perfect starting point. If you feel it’s not a reliable source try the many references listed at the bottom of the article.

  55. Xeni Jardin says:

    To the larger-than-average folks reading this thread: in no way did I intend to make fun of you.

    This post was intended as a silly, fast reflection of amusement with a ridiculous lawsuit between two ridiculous restaurants that serve ridiculous food in a ridiculous environment.

    I find 3-pound hamburgers repulsive. Mixing up metaphors of death, disease, and food grosses me out. I didn’t take the restaurants or the conflict seriously, but I think it’s funny to share stuff that icks you out, and eating contests and public celebrations of extreme food consumption, especially when they involve meat, just really grosses me out.

    I don’t think it’s okay to make fun of people because of their physical appearance, or the size or shape of their bodies. All joking aside, I swear to you that this was not my intent. It makes me sad that some people sincerely believed I was making secret invisible fat jokes. Or making fun of people with eating disorders.

    Some of the people I love in this world are heavy, and they really struggle with the cruelty that big people face. I would never want to add to that pile of cruelty.

    I might have a secret vegan agenda, but I don’t have a secret agenda to mock or heap cruelty upon large people.

    • omnifrog says:

      Thanks Xeni.

      As a fat kid growing up, adults would frequently slap me on the stomach as a “sign of affection.” It usually hurt, both physically and mentally. Now, even amongst close friends, if someone’s hand moves in a certain way near my stomach, I jerk reflexively, even if no harm was intended.

      Upon rereading your post, it wasn’t really so bad. But still, my reflexive reaction is to expect and even see the worst. And this is coming from someone who in any other context prides himself on being an objective scientist type of person.

      Your last post means a lot to me, and I certainly won’t be de-Xeni-ing boingboing anytime soon (yeah, I’ve been a reader for a while)

  56. zlr says:

    This “restaurant” (by american standards) doesn’t look so bad…
    I like what the owner says in the video.
    He’s not self righteous.

  57. omnifrog says:

    I know no one is reading this thread anymore, but if you are, or you’re moderating for links, I encourage you to read all of this one:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/10/first-law-of-thermodynamics-in-real.html

  58. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I find the stick-to-your-diet-and-everything-will-be-okay approach to be both puritanical and unscientific. We have studies that show relationships between genetics, maternal factors and cravings/obesity. And it still boils down to variations on “Drop the pork chop, Shamu.”

    Some people are fatter than others. Maybe it’s time to just get on with our lives.

    • foobar says:

      @Antinous

      Just-stick-to-your-diet-and-everything-will-be-ok is patronizing and simplistic, especially if it’s coming from someone who’s never had to do it.

      There’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it-so-don’t-try isn’t any better, though.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        There’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it-so-don’t-try isn’t any better, though.

        Why? If you eat to obesity because you’ve been genetically/chemically programmed to do so, what’s the point of feeling guilty about it? Spending your life on a draconian diet, feeling hungry and angry every moment of every day, just so that you can cleave to the norm? What kind of a life is that?

        But ZOMG being fat is unhealthy! Well, so is being miserable all the time.

        • Anonymous says:

          Following my compulsions makes me happy?

          Not what I observed when I lived with one of those gotta-clean-the-whole-house-every-night people.

  59. Anonymous says:

    There are tomatoes on that quad bypass burger! Healthy healthy!

  60. autobulb says:

    So it’s okay to celebrate eating crappy food and being overweight at this restaurant. Cool, so why are the waitresses all super slim?

  61. omnifrog says:

    Here’s an article in the journal “Obesity” by Puhl and Heuer about the current state of weight bias:

    http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/bias/WeightBiasStudy.pdf

    I’m reading it right now.

    As for the Rudd Center at Yale, they’re a house divided against themselves. A couple of people there are working on bias issues and the rest are working towards putting weight on student’s report cards.

  62. cratermoon says:

    I love how the owner of Heart Stoppers is a paramedic (according to the wbaf story)

  63. Hawkman says:

    I think it’s cynical, irresponsible, tasteless, gross, immature, absurd, horrifying, disgusting, and sexy. The sex sells it, I’m convinced.

  64. Anonymous says:

    The Heart Attack Grill is in Florida? There must be some kind of teleportation portal that delivers you there from Chandler, AZ, since that would be where I visited the place in September ’09.

  65. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    ..and if you’re going to disemvowel me..

    The martyr card already? You’re too easy, make me want it.

    And I think you’re reading far more into the post than is actually there.

    • mkultra says:

      Are you familiar with the concept of dog whistle politics? Well there are a lot of whistles being blown in that post, intentionally or not. Just because you can’t hear them doesn’t meant they aren’t there. Even the “thanks to” at the end is given to a chain of vegan restaurants. I mean, seriously.

  66. Anonymous says:

    “I have several friends who fit the fat category and who eat at such obscene, high calorie eateries. I’ve tried every which way to convince them to change their fatty ways with little luck.”

    And they’re still your friends, huh?

  67. slywy says:

    drinkcoke? You know that stuff alone will make you fat. And it’s all empty calories.

    I never touch the stuff.

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