Chubby babies and tubby toddlers are at risk for becoming overweight children and obese adults, so parents, doctors, and other caregivers need to help prevent infants and young children from getting fat, the National Academy of Sciences concluded Thursday.

Mothers, fathers, day-care workers, preschool employees and others should limit how much time kids spend parked in front of the television, watching videos and using other electronic gadgets, make sure they get enough exercise and sleep, and eat the right foods, the academy’s Institute of Medicine recommends in a new report.

“A lot of conventional thinking has been that a big baby is a healthy baby,” said Leann Birch, director of the center for childhood obesity research at Pennsylvania State University, who chaired the 14-member panel that issued the 140-page report. “… Evidence has been building that early overweight or early rapid weight gain places kids at risk for later obesity.”

About 10 percent of U.S. children between infancy and age 2 are already overweight, according to the report. Among kids ages 2 to 5, more than 20 percent are too heavy, the report states.

Research indicates that many parents do not realize infants and young children who are overweight are at risk for obesity, which increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, according to the report.