Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants, but are especially concentrated in sugarcane and sugar beet, making them ideal for efficient commercial extraction to make refined sugar. In 2016, the combined world production of those two crops was about two billion tonnes.
The average person consumes about 24 kilograms (53 lb) of sugar each year, or 33.1 kilograms (73 lb) in developed countries, equivalent to over 260 food calories per day. As sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have tried to clarify those implications, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that consume little or no sugar. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended that adults and children reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10%, and encouraged a reduction to below 5%, of their total energy intake.
The etymology reflects the spread of the commodity. From Sanskritशर्करा (śarkarā), meaning "ground or candied sugar," originally "grit, gravel", came Persianshakar, whence Arabicسكر (sukkar), whence Medieval Latinsuccarum, whence 12th-century Frenchsucre, whence the English word sugar. Italian zucchero, Spanish azúcar, and Portugueseaçúcar came directly from Arabic, the Spanish and Portuguese words retaining the Arabic definite article. The earliest Greek word attested is σάκχαρις (sákkʰaris).
The English word jaggery, a coarse brown sugar made from date palm sap or sugarcane juice, has a similar etymological origin: Portuguese jágara from the Malayalam ചക്കരാ (cakkarā), which is itself from the Sanskrit शर्करा (śarkarā).