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Fashion models must be screened for eating disorders

Fashion models should be screened for eating disorders and children under 16 years should be banned from the catwalk, according organizers of London Fashion Week.

The British Fashion Council report, however, stopped short of recommending models be disqualified from the fashion week for being too thin.

Madrid and Milan banned ultra-thin models from their fashion week runways last year, and organizers in Paris, London and elsewhere have also come under pressure to do the same.

Catwalk shows featuring designer clothes hanging off the shoulders of lanky girls face increasing pressure to act after models have died from suspected eating disorders. Critics accuse them of glorifying unhealthy body types and glamorizing eating disorders.

The British report, written by panel composed of fashion designers, models and an eating disorder specialist, instead asked modeling agencies to certify that their models had been examined for eating disorders by an accredited list of medical experts.

Up to 40 percent of models may have eating disorders, compared with an estimated 3 percent of the overall population, the report said.

Instead of weigh-ins, the British Fashion Council hopes to combat eating disorders through medical tests, mentoring programs and workshops. Other recommendations backed by the report include criminal background checks on agents and photographer working with young models, random drug testing backstage, more funding for research into eating disorders, and the creation of a model health watchdog.

The report's recommendations are not binding and the council has not said whether it will follow the recommendations.