British models banned from Madrid catwalks

MADRID, Feb 10, 2008 (AFP) - Three British models have been banned from taking part in Madrid fashion week because organisers said they were underweight, Spanish media reported Sunday February 10th.

All 70 models taking part in the five-day event which gets under way Monday were weighed and the three were found to have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18, the online edition of daily El Pais reported.

In 2006, Madrid's regional government -- which sponsors the show -- introduced bans for models with a BMI of less than 18 from taking part.

The move followed complaints that girls and young women were developing eating disorders by trying to copy the models' rail-thin looks.

The ban on overly thin models, the first in the world at a top-level fashion show, caused outrage among modeling agencies when it was first imposed.

Five models were stopped from taking part the first year that the ban was put in place and another five were banned last year.

The United Nations' World Health Organisation defines a BMI below 18.5 as "underweight" and recommend an index of between 18.5 and about 25.

The BMI is an index calculation based on height and weight.

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