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January 30, 2007

Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
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Rivera Bill Would Protect Young Models and Entertainers from Eating Disorders

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Josť Rivera (Bronx), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy introduced legislation (A.4250) to create an advisory board to recommend standards and guidelines for the employment of child performers and models under the age of 18 to prevent eating disorders. The advisory board, made up of health experts, industry representatives, and models and entertainment professionals would report to the Commissioner of Labor on the need for employment restrictions, weight or body mass index (BMI) requirements, medical screenings, referral protocols, and education programs.

"There have been recent incidents of models dying because of eating disorders. In the past there have been other entertainment professionals who have died or suffered from these problems because of the pressure to be thin. As a result some governments overseas have looked at weight or health requirements. The fashion industry in the U.S has formed a group to come up with recommendations to resolve this problem but the health experts believe the industry can't police itself. My Task Force was involved in creating the State's eating disorder comprehensive care centers but we need to do more, especially for young people," said Rivera.

In the past year two South American fashion models died from eating disorders. The cities of Madrid and Milan have instituted guidelines to prevent future tragedies. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has developed guidelines but these have been criticized by organizations and health professionals who work to prevent and treat eating disorders.

According to Rivera, "NYC is one of the world's leaders in fashion and entertainment and we don't want to do anything to harm those industries. At the same time we need responsible protections in place, especially for younger workers. My bill will involve the industry, along with medical experts, and models and entertainers themselves, to come up with guidelines. However, we will also use the power of the government to impose rules and regulations to protect the workers. I also expect that this bill will help prevent these problems throughout society by raising awareness and emphasizing a healthy attitude about body size among impressionable fans of models and entertainers."

In May of 2000, the British Medical Association identified a link between the images of "abnormally thin" models which are increasingly common in the media, and a rise in eating disorders.

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