The letter for PCTs to send in 2010/11 expresses a child's BMI as a centile, setting out the child's position against a population ideal.
Children in the top 2 per cent will be referred to as 'very overweight', not 'obese'. Those in the bottom 2 per cent are defined as 'underweight'. One in three children are overweight or obese, but data show parents believe their weight is normal.
Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and member of the National Obesity Forum, backed changes to the PCT letter, and the omission of 'scary' references to comorbidities.
'The letter should prompt the parent of an "overweight" child to discuss the information with a health professional,' he said.