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'Incitement of anorexia' may carry jail term

Anyone encouraging dangerous thinness and excessive dieting could be jailed under a draft law aiming at tackling the growing problem of anorexia in France.

The proposal to punish "incitement to excessive thinness'' in magazines, on websites and in other media comes amid the rising prevalence of eating disorders.

Up to 40,000 people, the vast majority women, suffer from anorexia in France -- an illness that strikes most frequently in adolescence.

The figure, while still far lower than that in Britain, challenges the notion that France remains immune to diet problems experienced by other Western nations.

The draft law, to be debated next week, proposes up to three years in jail and a e45,000 fine if the incitement provoked the death of an anorexia sufferer. Incitement alone would carry two years in jail.


While not seeking to target bona fide dieting, the law would punish any encouragement to make "people deprive themselves of food in order to get excessively thin," or that constituted an "open apology of anorexia".

The proposal coincides with the French fashion industry signing a charter to promote healthy body images among models.

Valerie Boyer, a right-wing UMP senator, said she felt compelled to draw up the Bill after being shocked by an advertising campaign featuring an anorexic French woman last year.

At the other extreme, France, like America and Britain, is in the throes of an obesity epidemic -- fuelled by the rise of junk food, a lack of exercise and "le snacking''.

Although the prevalence of obesity in Irish adults is almost twice that in France, with 18 per cent in Ireland compared to 10 per cent in France, child obesity is now almost equal in the two countries. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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