Dangerously thin models could soon be banned from runways in America, as Harvard University researchers have called for new laws to be passed.
Eating disorder experts S. Bryn Austin and Katherine Record have asked the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to prohibit the hiring of models with a BMI of less than 18.
In a new editorial, they claim this ban would "go a long way toward preventing serious health problems among young women - including anorexia nervosa and death from starvation."
The authors noted that the average runway model’s BMI is typically below the World Health Organisation’s threshold for medically dangerous thinness for adults - a BMI of less than 16.
“Models have died of starvation-related complications, sometimes just after stepping off the runway,” Austin and Record wrote.
France is the latest country to pass new laws requiring the fashion industry to ensure models provide a doctor's certificate to prove they are healthy.
The original draft of France's bill, much like MP Caroline Noake's campaign in the UK, proposed the enforcement of a minimum BMI for models.
But in the end it was agreed to let doctors decide whether a model is too thin based on a wider range of criteria including age, gender and body shape.
The British Fashion Council does not enforce a minimum BMI, as it believes it is an inaccurate measure for young women. Instead, the organisation says it has “a focus on looking after models [and] encourages health and wellbeing with healthy food and drink provided backstage at shows”.