LONDON (Reuters) - Models strutting catwalks at London Fashion Week should provide a certificate attesting their good health, but there should be no outright ban on wafer-thin women, the British Fashion Council said on Friday.
In its report, the council recommended models under 16 should be outlawed from London's catwalks. It said the medical certificate must be provided from September next year by doctors specialising in eating disorders.
Spain and Italy have recommended banning models with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 from catwalks but the expert panel behind the report rejected use of the index saying it was not an accurate measure of health.
"We have considered this carefully and listened to a range of expert views. But we do not believe a focus on BMI provides the way forward," the report said.
"We favour the alternative approach of promoting good health based on medical assessments of models participating in London Fashion Week," it said.
BMI is a measure of how much weight we carry per centimetre of our bodies. While it is a fair measure of good health it is not perfect.
For instance, BMI is not a good measure for athletes because muscle weighs more than fat. Individuals suffering from obesity may also be better measured by waist circumference.
The report acknowledged there was a problem with eating disorders among models and recommended a health education and awareness programme should be set up urgently.
"During the investigation, evidence of the vulnerability of women in the modelling progression was startling and models are at high risk of eating disorders," said Denise Kingsmill, chair of the inquiry.