The world produced about 168 million tonnes of sugar in 2011. The average person consumes about 24 kilograms of sugar each year (33.1 kg in industrialised countries), equivalent to over 260 food calories per person, per day. Sugar provides empty calories.
Since the latter part of the twentieth century, it has been questioned whether a diet high in sugars, especially refined sugars, is bad for health. Sugar has been linked to obesity and suspected of being implicated in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration and tooth decay. Numerous studies have been undertaken to try to clarify the position but the results remain largely unclear, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that do not consume sugar.
The five largest producers of sugar in 2011 were Brazil, India, the European Union, China and Thailand. In the same year, much the largest exporter of sugar was Brazil, distantly followed by Thailand, Australia and India. The largest importers were the European Union, United States and Indonesia. Currently, Brazil has the highest per capita consumption of sugar, followed by Australia, Thailand and the European Union.