Italy's fashion bosses are drawing up a manifesto to crack down on the use of ultra-thin models on the catwalk.

They are taking action as pressure grows on the fashion world to promote healthier looks.

It comes after Spain barred models below a certain weight from a Madrid fashion show in September, prompting industry leaders in Argentina and Brazil to ensure models are over 16 and not excessively thin.

Powerful Milan fashion houses initially resisted calls to copy the Spanish regulations.

Italian National Fashion Chamber head Mario Boselli said in September that only "maybe one girl in a hundred" could be defined as too skinny.

But after Boselli, whose lobby represents big names like Armani, Versace and Prada, met Italian Youth Minister Giovanna Melandri this week, he agreed to work with the ministry on a self regulatory code of good practice.

The manifesto will be launched before the Milan women's fashion week in February.

Flaminia Spadone, an aide to the minister, said: "We'd like fashion houses, modelling agencies, photographers and everyone working in the fashion world to sign the charter.

"It would be voluntary but professional bodies could decide to impose sanctions on people who don't sign."

Boselli said the charter might require women to undergo medical checks for body weight.

Spadone said the ministry would ideally like to follow the Spanish example and impose a limit on the body mass index, which takes into account the model's height versus weight.

She said models who came under 18.5 on the index -- the World Health Organization's definition of underweight -- should be banned from working for the sake of their own health.

The issue of super-thin models has come into sharp critical focus since the death of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston last month from complications derived from the slimming disease anorexia.