Models required to provide 'good health' certificates

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If Twiggy were starting her modelling career today, she could find herself banned from the catwalks under new rules recommended yesterday.

Britain's first teenage supermodel, who became the face of the swinging Sixties, was too young at 16, when she was signed up in 1966 by Justin de Villeneuve, to enter the fashion industry in 2007, the Model Health inquiry has concluded.

At 5ft 6ins tall and weighing six-and-a-half stone (41 kgs) she was also exceedingly skinny, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 14.6, well below the 18.5 regarded as the healthy minimum. But the inquiry, set up in March by the British Fashion Council to tackle health problems among London Fashion Week models, has declined to set a lower limit on the size of models.

Instead, it said models should be required to provide "good health" certificates from doctors specialising in eating disorders. Agencies would have to check the certificates before taking the models on.

Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council which owns London Fashion Week said: "We specifically asked the inquiry to review whether BMI was a useful measure for eating disorders.

"The inquiry did not support the introduction of a 'weigh-in' system through BMI testing due to the risk that it may worsen eating disorders among models and would be both demeaning and discriminatory.

"We agree with this assessment and the introduction of medical certificates, and subsequent monitoring will better support the general healthiness of models appearing on the catwalk."

If evidence were needed to back their case, Twiggy is it. Now aged 57, she is a picture of health and is fronting the current M&S ad campaign credited with lifting Britain's best known store out of the doldrums.

However, other countries have taken a different approach. Madrid Fashion week has banned girls with a BMI of less than 18.5.

The report contained 14 recommendations including chaperones for 16-18 year old models, random drug tests and a "rigorous scientific study" into the extent of eating disorders within the industry.

The inquiry was sparked by the deaths of Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, 22 , and her sister, Eliana, 18, within months of each other last year as a result of eating disorders.