'Twinkie Defense' Keeps Fat Recruits Out of the Military

The growing obese population in the United States can use the "Twinkie Defense" to get out of military service.

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Only in America could the so-called "Twinkie Defense" merge with the conscientious objector argument to address the unique issues of the 21st century.

In the 1960s and early '70s, draftees sought to avoid fighting in the unpopular Vietnam war by assuming "CO," or conscientious objector status, declaring themselves morally opposed to war and killing. This didn't go over too well with the draft board, which tended to classify such men as 1-A anyway, sending them off to basic training if they hadn't fled to Canada by then.

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In 1978, San Francisco Superviser Dan White gunned down the city's mayor, George Moscone, as well as City Superviser Harvey Milk. White's defense included the claim that a poor diet of Twinkies and sugary cola contributed to the killer's behavior. White was subsequently convicted on manslaughter instead of murder, though the "Twinkie Defense'" remained more of a derisive media term than an accepted part of jurisprudence.

Both arguments pretty much expired last century, but they could be back. The U.S. military, faced with a growing obesity problem among potential recruits and a mandate to reduce the size of the force by tens of thousands over the coming years, has gotten tough on fat. Recruits who are lagging in the fitness department will simply not be allowed to stay in the service.

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Said Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde to the Washington Post:

A healthy and fit force is essential to national security. Our service members must be physically prepared to deploy on a moment's notice anywhere on the globe to extremely austere and demanding conditions.

In the first 10 months of this year alone, the Post reports, 1,625 soldiers were tossed out of the military for being too fat—nearly 16 times the number ejected for that reason in 2007. And in 2010, more than 86,000 troops, or 5.3 percent of the force, was diagnosed at least once with being clinically obese.

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The enemy has found our soft underbelly, and it's—well, our soft underbellies. It's pretty pathetic that a military with the skill and bravery and smarts to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden is nonetheless hampered by a weakness, at least on the part of some recruits, for junk food. Will grenades be replaced by Krispy Kremes in future ground wars?

And for those who worry that we'll get involved in another protracted, ill-conceived conflict that will require a draft, here's an idea: start eating. Now. Don't bother with the Twinkies—Hostess is in bankruptcy and the ultra-sweet confections might not be available much longer. But head to the nearest American mall, where the food court drips with grease and sugar. Go to your local TGI Friday's, where portions are designed just for you—and the Washington Redskins. You won't need to convince a draft board you're a conscientious objector. They'll object to you first.

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