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German Fashion Industry Unites Against Anorexic Models

German fashion industry representatives signed a voluntary code of conduct in Berlin Friday aimed at banning anorexic models from the catwalk, an initiative backed by the federal government.

A woman looks at a giant poster showing a naked emaciated woman, part of a campaign against anorexia

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In terms of the agreement, women models must be older than 16 and have a dress size of at least 36, equivalent to a size 10 in Britain and a size 6 in the United States.

The prime mover behind the initiative, Health Minister Ulla Schmidt, acknowledged that the move would not solve the problem of compulsive slimming among young women.

But an example could be set, in cooperation with other European countries, for the large fashion shows with their extremely thin models, she said.

In December last year, Schmidt, in cooperation with Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Education Minister Annette Schavan and Austrian Family Minister Andrea Kdolsky, kicked off a campaign entitled "Life has weight - together against slimming madness."

A recent comprehensive survey by Germany's Robert Koch Institute found that around 22 per cent of youngsters aged 11 to 17 suffer from some form of eating disorder.

In boys, the rate then falls off, while among girls it rises to 30 per cent at the age of 17. Schmidt called the numbers "shocking."

Von der Leyen said 90 per cent of those affected were girls or young women. "Anorexia is overwhelmingly female and it is very youthful," she said.

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