The Knesset approved a law late Monday night that bans the display of underweight models in Israeli advertising, prohibits ads from abroad if they feature models deemed underweight, and requires advertisers to note when images have been visually manipulated to make the models appear thinner.
The increased prevalence of eating disorders in Israeli society, particularly among young girls, prompted Danny Danon of Likud and Rachel Adatto of Kadima to draft the law, which intends to discourage the idealization of excessively thin bodies.
“This law is another step in the war against eating disorders,” Adatto, a physician, said after a preliminary reading of the draft law. Underweight models, she said, “can no longer serve as role models for innocent youths who adopt and copy the illusion of thinness.”
The law defines underweight in keeping with the internationally accepted Body Mass Index (BMI) standard, a ratio of weight compared to height. Anyone with a ratio under 18.5 is considered underweight.
According to a 2002 study, between 60% and 80% of Israeli female adolescents are dissatisfied with their weight and figure, though the vast majority of those surveyed were of normal or even low weight.
A report presented to the Knesset in 2002 found that five percent of young Israelis suffered from eating disorders. Of those, 90 percent were girls between the ages of 12 and 20.