As the obesity epidemic continues to increase worldwide, the need for accessible and effective treatment also grows. Nutrition is often considered as the single most important modifiable factor that influences reproduction, health and the intergenerational risks of obesity and metabolic disease. It is well accepted that in utero exposure to maternal diet can program offspring body composition and susceptibility to disease in later life. While animal studies have focused primarily on the effects of either maternal under-nutrition (e.g., calorie or protein restriction), or over-feeding of high fat diets, little is known about the effects of macronutrient balance in modulating offspring health. An important model, called protein leverage, posits that a tight, innate regulation of protein intake can result in the overconsumption of fats and carbohydrates when given low protein diets, and their underconsumption on diets with a high proportion of protein. However, the question remains as to when and how this strong regulation is programmed in an individual. Here, we investigate how maternal protein to carbohydrate (P:C) balance influences protein-specific appetite in offspring and the implications for the development of obesity using a mouse model. Using food choice experiments, we show that offspring from dams fed high P:C diets have greater protein targets, a result consistent across sexes. We also show that these greater protein targets increase offspring food intake when placed on no-choice diets, resulting in an overall increase in body weights and fat mass. This work highlights the massive implications of early life programming on later life metabolism. It could help to explain known patterns in the epidemiology of obesity and will provide fundamental new understanding of the ways in which maternal nutrition shapes offspring health.