In the Western world, consumption of soft drinks has increased the last three decades and is partly responsible for the epidemic-like increase in obesity. Soft drinks, originally sweetened by sucrose, are now sweetened by other caloric sweeteners, such as fructose. In this study, we investigated the short-term effect of sucrose, glucose or fructose solutions on food intake and body weight in rats, and on peripheral and central appetite signals. Rats received water containing either of the sugars and standard rat chow for two weeks. Rats receiving water alone and standard chow were controls. All rats offered the sugar solutions increased their total caloric intake. The increased caloric intake occurred despite the fact that the rats offered either of the sugar solutions consumed less chow. As a consequence of the increased caloric intake, the sugar-drinking rats had elevated serum levels of free fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol. In addition, consuming sugar solutions resulted in increased serum leptin, decreased serum PYY and down-regulated hypothalamic NPY mRNA. Serum ghrelin was increased in rats receiving fructose solution. Moreover, consumption of sucrose or fructose solution resulted in up-regulated hypothalamic CB1 mRNA. Hypothalamic POMC mRNA was down-regulated in rats receiving glucose or fructose. In conclusion, consumption of glucose, sucrose or fructose solution results in caloric overconsumption and body weight gain through activation of hunger signals and depression of satiety signals as well as activation of reward components. The weight-promoting effect of these sugar solutions may possibly be ameliorated by the down-regulation of NPY mRNA and increased serum leptin.