Fashion show organisers have formally banned models with a body mass index of less than 18.5 and models under 16 years of age from all future Milan fashion shows.

The agreement, backed by the government, comes a month after a Brazilian model died from the eating disorder anorexia.

In addition, courses on healthy eating and exercise will be available to models as part of the deal, which is aimed at encouraging a variety of sizes of models instead of just the super-skinny.

The deal aims to show young people "the importance of positive models of living," said Milan mayor Letizia Moratti.

A joint statement from Italy's Fashion Council and the country's government said: "Many women affected by eating disorders had started dieting to attain the figures of catwalk models and cover girls."

The two parties are expected to sign a broader manifesto on the issue of model sizes and ages this week.

Spain has already barred models below a certain weight from fashion shows in Madrid and Brazil has launched a campaign to ban underage and underweight models.