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France's lower house bans ultra-thin models

French lawmakers have approved a new measure that takes aim at anorexic models on the catwalk. Israel and Spain already have bans targeting the fashion industry's penchant for excessively thin women.

On Friday, France's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, voted in favor of a fine of up to 75,000 euros ($85,000) and up to six months' imprisonment for anyone who employs ultra-thin models.

"Anyone whose body mass index…is below a certain level will not be able to work as a catwalk model," the measure read.

Models must present a medical certificate proving that they have a BMI of at least 18. A woman with a height of 1.75 meters (5.7 feet) who weighed 55 kg (121 lb) would be considered at the extreme lower end of this new scale.

The French government attempted to pass similar legislation in 2008.

Earlier this month, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine urged lawmakers to put health before beauty in the country whose fashion industry sets worldwide trends.

Models must "eat well and look after their health," she said. "This is an important message to young women who see these models as an aesthetic example."

According to the French health ministry, roughly 40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia. Ninety-percent of those are women.

The vote came one day after the National Assembly passed another amendment to public health legislation, under which so-called "pro-ana" websites - online sites accused of promoting anorexia - will be fined up to 10,000 euros.

kms/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)