Banning size zero models from the catwalk could worsen the obesity epidemic as the sight of larger people would increase unhealthy eating habits, researchers from the University of Bologna warn.
While it may benefit those with eating disorders, it would be detrimental to the majority, they say.
They said: ‘To promote chubby fashion models when obesity is one of the major problems of industrialised countries seems to be a paradox.’
Increasing the size of catwalk models will alter the ideal weights of a wide part of the female population, according to their research, due to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference this week.
Its effect would also be felt beyond the catwalk by indirectly affecting people’s aspirations through mediums such as TV advertising.
Role models influence eating behaviour by making people feel under pressure to diet and set a standard to conform to, they say.
Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘This is an entirely wrong idea to promote.
‘We want to see models with normal bodies – neither overweight or underweight – and to promote a healthy lifestyle through correct eating.’
Written by Tariq Tahir
Original article published in Metro: 19/04/2011