Overfeeding during perinatal life leads to an overweight phenotype that persists throughout the juvenile stage and into adulthood, however, the mechanism(s) underlying this effect are poorly understood. We hypothesized that obesity due to neonatal overfeeding is maintained by changes in energy expenditure and that these changes differ between males and females. We investigated feeding, physical activity, hormonal and metabolic alterations that occur in adult rats made obese by having been nursed in small litters (SL) compared with those from control litters (CL). There were no differences in absolute food intake between the groups, and juvenile and adult SL rats ate less chow per gram body weight than the CL did in the dark (active) phase. Juvenile, but not adult SL rats did have reduced whole body energy expenditure, but there were no differences between the groups by the time they reached adulthood. Adult SL females (but not males) had reduced brown adipose tissue (BAT) temperatures compared with CL in the first half of the dark phase. Our results indicate a persistent overweight phenotype in rats overfed as neonates is not associated with hyperphagia at any stage, but is reflected in reduced energy expenditure into the juvenile phase. The reduced dark phase BAT activity in adult SL females is not sufficient to reduce total energy expenditure at this stage of life and there is an apparently compensatory effect that prevents SL and CL from continuing to diverge in weight that appears between the juvenile and adult stages.