Childhood obesity has been attributed to a decline in total energy expenditure (TEE). We measured TEE, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour in a representative sample of young children from Glasgow, UK, at age 3 years (n=78), and we did a follow-up study at age 5 years (n=72). Mean physical activity level (TEE/resting energy expenditure) was 1.56 (SD 0.39) at age 3 years and 1.61 (0.22) at age 5 years. Median time in sedentary behaviour was 79% of monitored hours at age 3 years (IQR 74-84) and 76% (71-80) at age 5 years. Median time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity represented only 2% of monitored hours at age 3 years (IQR 1-4) and 4% at age 5 years (2-6). Modern British children establish a sedentary lifestyle at an early age.