Is anorexia 'a socially-transmitted disease' Governments should ban use of underweight models, study reveals

The death of anorexic model Ana Carolina Reston in 2006 sparked a size zero debate that has changed the shape of the fashion industry.

Many designers have since refused to hire 'underweight' girls and there has been a notable rise in the use of plus-size models for high-end campaigns.

As yet, no law is being enforced to ensure a ban remains in place.

But a new study has revealed governments would be justified in taking drastic action.

Ana Carolina Reston

Ana Carolina Reston, who died from an anorexia-related illness in 2006, sparked a size zero debate in the fashion industry

The first-ever economic analysis of anorexia, studying nearly 3,000 young women in the UK and Europe, revealed that underweight models who appear in magazines and on the runway could be responsible for distorting women's body image.

The study, to be published in the academic journal Economica later this year, also brands anorexia a 'socially transmitted disease.'

Dr Joan Costa-Font,
who worked on the research conducted at the London School of Economics, said: 'Government intervention to adjust individual biases in self-image would
be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of food

Crystal Renn

 Crystal Renn

Crystal Renn, who admitted to once having an eating disorder, made a name for herself a successful plus-size model but has recently lost weight again

'We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a
determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted
self-perception of one’s own body.'

research also advocated 'reducing the mass circulation of pictures of
emaciated models and celebrities and restricting adverts in which they

The study recommended governments could also help promote healthier body image via social networking.

The advice comes as popular website Tumblr recently announced a crackdown on blogs it feels are glorifying anorexia or self-harm.

statement on Tumblr's staff blog read: 'Our Content Policy has not, until
now, prohibited blogs that actively promote self-harm. These typically
take the form of blogs that glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and
other eating disorders; self-mutilation; or suicide.

'These are messages and points of view that we strongly oppose, and don’t want to be hosting.'