Blair River, 6ft 8inches tall, spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill, died from what appeared to be a complication of flupneumonia. The 575-pound man’s job was to promote a restaurant unashamed of its high-calorie, unhealthy menu.

At Chandler’s Heart Attack Grill, staff walk around in nurses uniforms and the owner, John Basso, has a doctor’s white coat – however, the menu is definitely not for those interested in good health or looking after their figure.

The restaurant has meals in excess of 8,000 calories. An active 200lbs man who is 6ft 2ins tall does not require more than 3,000 calories per day. Consuming 8,000 in just one sitting, plus whatever else that person might eat during their other meals would most definitely result in weight gain. The menu features milkshakes, French fries cooked in pig lard and giant hamburgers.

A large sign warns “Caution. This establishment is bad for your health.”

Basso and several regular clients say that it is all a question of choice, nobody is making anyone eat there, it is a personal decision.

Having River, a giant of a man as the restaurant’s spokesman was part of a humorous glorification of obesity.

Basso says River’s death is no laughing matter. “You couldn’t have found a better person”, he said. He added that those who knew him are crying their eyes out. Even if River had been skinny he would still have been given the job, according to Basso.

An obese individual has accumulated so much fat that it might be harmful for their health. If someone’s bodyweight is at least 20% higher than it should be, he is probably obese. However, some muscly or athletic people may be heavy but not obese or even overweight.

Ideal body weight, overweight and obesity are generally calculated according to BMI (body mass index). Those with a BMI between 19 and 24.99 have an ideal body weight, overweight people’s BMI is between 25 and 29.99, and obese people have a BMI of 30 or more.

Although BMI is considered to be a useful way to work out healthy body weight, it can be misleading because it does not measure the percentage of body fat. For example, a 100-meter professional sprinter may weigh much more than a couch potato of the same height, but his waist will be much smaller – the athlete does not have an unhealthier body than the inactive person.

Obesity is usually caused by overeating (consuming too many calories), leading a sedentary lifestyle, taking some medications, and not getting enough sleep. Some hormonal conditions may also be a cause.

Obese people have a higher risk of developing several diseases, such as osteoarthritis, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, respiratory problems, several cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Written by Christian Nordqvist