Australia's Miss Universe competition found itself under scrutiny yesterday as doctors and dieticians questioned the inclusion of a finalist they claimed was severely underweight.
Dietician Melanie McGrice told Australia's Daily Mail that at 180cm and weighing just 49kg, 19-year-old Stephanie Naumoska was well under the World Health Organisation's benchmark for malnutrition.
"I would certainly want to be doing an assessment of her diet to make sure she doesn't have some type of eating disorder," she said.
The controversy surfaced after images of Naumoska parading in a bikini during the swimsuit competition showed her ribs and pelvic bones protruding.
McGrice told the Herald Sun there appeared to be "significant muscle wasting" on Naumoska's upper arm and legs.
"Individuals with a healthy BMI do not have such protruding bones."
But pageant director Deborah Miller denied Naumoska was unhealthy, telling the Courier Mail: "This girl has Macedonian heritage and if you have been there you would know it is a Macedonian body type."
"They have long, lithe bodies and small bones - it is their body type, just like Asian girls tend to be small," Miller said.
Naumoska, who was one of 32 finalists in the beauty pageant, has hit back at the allegations and was reported in the Herald Sun as saying she thought the criticisms were "unfair".
"I have never been anorexic or bulimic. I don't throw up my meals after I eat them I don't starve myself, none of that. I eat six to eight healthy meals a day," she said.
She added that she did not weigh herself but believed - contrary to the figure of 49kg given on her modelling agency's website - that she was at least 52-53kg.
Naumoska was knocked out of the competition after the swimsuit contest.
The pageant's eventual winner, 21-year-old Rachael Finch, told the Herald Sun she did not believe Naumoska had an eating disorder.
"All the girls there were happy and healthy and fit for the role," Finch said.
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