Tamils rally for decriminalization of Tigers

Last Monday, 120,000 people from Tamil communities across the GTA formed a seven-kilometre human chain to demand that Canada recognize the Tamil Tigers as a liberation group and a voice for Sri Lanka’s embattled Tamil minority.

A crowd of people gathered at Union Station in the afternoon to show strong support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who are currently locked in a decades-long battle with Sri Lankan forces.

Ramya Janandharan, the awareness coordinator for St. George campus’s Tamil Students’ Association, led a group of student demonstrators but was careful to say that she attended the protest to express her personal beliefs. The TSA has no official position for or against the LTTE, preferring to let its members choose for themselves.

“As a TSA we did not take a stance. But we believe the LTTE is the Tamil nation’s only hope for lasting peace,” she said.

Kiruba Kulaveerasindum, a Toronto man who joined student demonstrators at U of T, called the Tamil Tigers “freedom fighters” and accused the Sri Lankan government of perpetrating genocide on its Tamil population.

“[The government] is not at war, they want to destroy the Tamil nation,” he said.

Demonstrators gathered signatures for a petition to have the LTTE taken off Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. Janandharan told The Varsity that organizers plan to send copies of the petition to Prime Minister Harper and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The LTTE have been banned as a criminal organization in Canada for three years.

Last month, a former president of the Canadian Tamil Students’ Association pled guilty in a U.S. court to facilitating a $900,000 weapons deal to supply the Tigers with guns and surface-to-air missile launchers.

Former U of T student Sathajhan Sarachandran is awaiting sentencing along with former Waterloo student Suresh Sriskandarajah. Each faces a sentence of 25 years to life.

Rocking for the weekend

Rocking for the weekend

Charting the best and worst of Canadian Music Week 2009

Gentleman Reg (Horseshoe, Thursday, 11 p.m.)

He’s had a rough couple of years, but Gentleman Reg’s CMW appearance was a declaration that not only is his career back on track, he’s in better form than ever. While it’s true that the local folkie rocks out harder than ever before on his new album, Jet Black, fans of his romantic ballads needn’t worry, he hasn’t gone hardcore. Emerging with a silk scarf thrown around his neck (used as a towel once the house lights started beating down), Gentleman Reg ripped through a selection of glossy rockers including “You Can’t Get It Back” and “Coastline.” He did so with a little help from his friends: The Bicycles’ Dana Snell was a force on the drum kit, and Land of Talk singer Liz Powell rushed the stage for an impromptu backing vocal. The latest in a long line of rock ‘n’ roll comebacks, if things keep rolling for Gentleman Reg, at least we’ll be able to say we knew him when.

Rating: VVVv

Malajube (El Mocambo, Thursday, 1 a.m.)

Love the band, hate the fans—after all, it isn’t often that a performer needs to tell the audience to shut up. Unfortunately, Malajube’s legion of Quebeçois groupies thought it best to puncture the gaps between songs with soccer chants, and with lead singer Julien Mineau’s mic mysteriously turned off through the set’s first half, the audience didn’t quite know when to stop. Malajube played much of their new album, Labyrinthes, a decidedly more subdued and sombre effort than their earlier work. While lead track “Porté Disparu” was performed with a riveting spookiness, the rest of the new songs blended into a rhythmless mush. Even peppy old stanbys “Casse-Cou” and “La Monogamie” got lost in the shuffle of new tracks. The show’s one saving grace was an encore rendition Malajube’s biggest hit, “Montréal -40º.” But it wasn’t enough to remedy a show that left the audience largely bewildered and disappointed.


Rating: VV

Katy Perry (Masonic Temple, Friday, 9:55 p.m.)

Two things distinguished Katy Perry from the rest of the CMW lineup—besides her obvious American citizenship, she provided one of the festival’s few shows that could truly be described as a guilty pleasure. Within the opening synth beats of “Hot N Cold,” Perry was masterfully working the stage, dancing in impressively high heels, and beaming contagiously at a capacity crowd of pop lovers and industry lowlives who packed the Masonic Temple. Her energy sagged noticeably when she broke out the acoustic guitar for her country-infused “Thinking of You,” and even worse was “Ur So Gay,” an absolutely painful Carly Simon-inspired sendoff to an ex-lover. Luckily, Perry was captivating with her upbeat numbers, particularly the show-closing “I Kissed A Girl.” Before waltzing offstage, Perry danced with a six-foot inflatable tube of cherry Chapstick, then smooched an unwitting female in the front row. (And yeah, the girl definitely liked it.) —SW

Rating: VVVv

Teen Anger (Friday, Gladstone Hotel, 10 p.m.)

With the collapse of The Deadly Snakes, Toronto’s Teen Anger want to revive garage rock the only way they know how—by kicking ass. While the band’s set at the Gladstone’s Eye Weekly showcase stalled due to a broken guitar string, leaving attendees awkwardly milling about, Teen Anger got back on board with smouldering tracks like “Carole Pope,” “Homecoming Queen,” and “Minimum Wage”—with the calling-all-graduates opening, “I make minimum wage, I’m always hoping for the best!” A slinky girl bass player complimented Teen Anger’s adolescent fury, a melding of Richard Hell and the dirge-like aggression of Anagram. A band worthy of breakout status, see them now, and brag to your friends later. —CHANDLER LEVACK

Rating: VVVV The Ghost Is Dancing

(Silver Dollar, Friday, 2 a.m.)

Everyone loves a love affair. The Ghost Is Dancing, yet another of Toronto’s seven-person-don’t-ya-love-hand-claps bands stole hearts with a late-night showcase at the grody Silver Dollar. With the forthcoming Battles On, new tracks like “This Thunder” and the orchestral-call-to-arms title track boasted a darker, synth-based sound than the band’s poppier fare. And yet, “Wall Of Snow” and “Organ” had fans jumping, as the band (predictably) shed winter layers down to their skivvies. While haters may call the Ghost on overdramatic trumpet lines and aw-shucks crowd demeanour, one thing’s for certain: it’s the most jubilant live show in town. Plus, Jamie Matechuk without a shirt on? Swoon. —CL

Rating: VVVV

Bloc Party (Kool Haus, Saturday, 10 p.m.)

London post-punk turned electro-rockers Bloc Party headlined the weekend with a two-night stand at the Kool Haus, and were greeted Saturday evening with a lone bra that hit the stage before they even picked up their instruments. It was immediately clear—we were in for a sweaty night. While classic rave-ups “Banquet” and “Like Eating Glass” were delivered with precision, Bloc Party were a different band once they broke out the electro material off 2008’s Intimacy. Singer Kele Okereke ditched his guitar in favour of a vocal effect pedal for “Mercury” and “Ares.” Despite a few strange decisions (leaving out current single “One Month Off,” not to mention my personal favourite, the ode to unrealized grade school romance “I Still Remember”), theirs was a party-starting performance that demanded a second encore. As he bid the Toronto crowd adieu with a moving rendition of “This Modern Love,” Okereke thanked Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy for a wonderful tour of the city, and promised to return with album number four. —RD

Rating: VVVV

Cuff the Duke (Lee’s Palace, Saturday, 12:45 a.m.)

Cuff the Duke were allocated one of the last time slots of CMW 2009, and they certainly ended the festival with a bang. Riding the success of their critically-acclaimed 2007 album Sidelines of the City, the band provided lengthy, wistful instrumentals on “Remember the Good Times” and “Long Road.” Most memorable, though, was when the band invited all of the night’s previous performers onstage with them for a rendition of “If I Live or If I Die.” Assorted members of Elliott Brood and Basia Bulat’s band harmonized with Cuff the Duke on violins, guitars, and vocals, as the Lee’s Palace stage was transformed into a funky East Coast kitchen party. (Good thing everyone knew the lyrics.) Cuff the Duke also previewed several encouraging tracks from their upcoming album, including the tentatively titled “Good Day” and “Promises.” If the rest of their new work turns out to be anything like their CMW concert, we definitely have some great music to look forward to. —SW

Rating: VVVVv

Iraq’s Prolonged Occupation

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq was one of the most contentious issues of the 2008 presidential campaign. While Democrats insisted on a quick and phased removal of troops, Republicans like John McCain opted for a decidedly ambiguous “stay the course” approach which would leave U.S. forces in Iraq for “maybe 50, maybe 100 years.”

In a remarkable reversal that many members of the GOP are now hailing, President Obama has decided to withdraw all “combat forces” by August 2010, and remaining forces by December 2011. Prominent Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have criticized the plan to leave 35,000 to 50,000 “residual troops” until the final withdrawal date. Disregarding the paradoxical positions taken by both parties, the plan seems ridden with loopholes.

First, Article 27 of the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration in 2008 gives the United States leave to “take appropriate measures, in the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq.” The ambiguity of this rhetoric is worrisome. After all, Iraq’s Shiite majority is likely to form closer ties with Iran, a nation hostile to U.S. interests in the region. The government of Nouri Al-Maliki could easily be replaced by a less pro-Western administration that would formalize these ties. What constitutes “aggression” may thus be a point of contention, and the text of the SOF Agreement is distinctly vague about the nature of any American response. It might, for example, take the same form as the “appropriate measures” carried out in 2003 to protect the American people from the “imminent threat” of Iraq’s non-existent stockpile of destructive weapons.

Second, there does not appear to be any plan to scrap the $700 million monstrosity jokingly called an “embassy.” The 104-acre complex in downtown Baghdad is about the size of Vatican City and heavily fortified even by the standards of the so-called “Green Zone.” Its construction is permanent, and the United States will maintain a staff of more than 1,000 in addition to marine and security contingents. The price of sustaining such a large facility will cost the U.S. taxpayer a projected $1.2 billion a year, with funds paying for staff and maintenance as well as a cinema, swimming pool, and recreational centre. Construction contracts for the facility were awarded to “First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting,” a company notable for its unethical labour practices. In July 2007, a congressional sub-committee heard testimony from a medical technician working on the embassy. He claimed that the company had illegally employed foreign workers who had their passports confiscated while believing they were bound for Dubai to work on hotels. He described the working conditions at the construction site as “absurd,” noting that many of the workers were “without shoes, gloves, or safety harnesses.” Thus, Baghdad’s costly fortress will remain indefinitely in a location central to Iraqi governance and infrastructure.

But perhaps the biggest hole in the Obama withdrawal plan is that it makes no mention of the more than 100,000 private security guards working under State Department contracts in Iraq, a number likely to increase if troop withdrawal occurs on schedule. These personnel are not the benevolent, smiling security guards one sees at a shopping mall, but a vast mercenary army consisting of multiple firms, and completely immune to Iraqi law according to a report by the Congressional Research Service of the U.S. Congress.

The Iraq War is often characterized as an “unmitigated familiar” or a “terrible strategic blunder,” but just as the word “aggression” is highly subjective, so is the definition of success. For the Iraqi people, the war meant the destruction of their secular education system, more than a million refugees, and terrifying sectarian violence. For the American taxpayer, it meant an estimated bill of $3 trillion (though an accurate number is impossible to gauge) and more than 4,000 military casualties. For American firms, the invasion created a highly profitable enterprise; the titanic sum spent on the war did not simply disappear into a vacuum. Rather, much of it was transferred to private companies in a dramatic outsourcing funded by the U.S. taxpayer.

The war’s preamble was also a highly successful public relations exercise: one poll conducted in 2003 by the Washington Post found that nearly 70 per cent of Americans believed Saddam Hussein to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Another poll, conducted in late 2006, found that 90 per cent of American soldiers believed that the purpose of the U.S. mission in Iraq was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks.” These spurious pretexts for the war have long evaporated, but the occupation itself may be far from over.

Vigilante justice

Only at U of T could something start with Funstuff Colors and end with fines and transcript notices.

On March 5, Leo Josephy and Lindsay Fischer mixed paint, dipped hands, and made literally hundreds of handprints around campus to promote EnviroFest. Shortly after, campus police received multiple complaints and spoke with the two.

As of print time, a constable is working out repercussions with the college deans, who Josephy (of Victoria College) and Fischer (of Trinity) say aren’t upset about their actions. Most of the prints dissolved a few days later from heavy rainfall. The two voluntarily went out to clean remnants off vertical surfaces.

With publicly-funded buildings used privately for classes and public roads owned by the city, it’s a headache to determine which jurisdictions could prosecute cross-campus vandalism. Adding to the confusion is our campus’ public statues made out of donations or public funding and designated historic sites with their own vandalism codes. I’m not even going to get into the hassles of maintaining buildings sponsored by corporations.

Someone in building management issued a fine for cleaning up the handprints. Not knowing where to issue it, UTSU received a bill, working with Josephy and Fisher to figure out a solution.

Campus police told the accused that their acts constituted mischief and that they would’ve been handcuffed if they weren’t students. The two say the constables they dealt with were honest, patient, and let them voice their thoughts. What concerns the two is the possibility of being put on conduct probation. Under section B, article three of the Code of Student Conduct, they could get anything from a warning to fines and a note on their transcript. They say they a received a positive response, including prospective students on tours who seemed interested in a much more lively, grassroots image of U of T. But the issue isn’t the cops. When receiving a complaint, they investigate. The issue is what comes next.

Josephy and Fischer seem to be the truest vigilante activists on our apathetic campus, short of the whining, quasi-violent “Fight Fees 14.” Do they deserve fines? Transcript notices? The administrative hell of appealing said notices?

Campus police didn’t get back to The Varsity when asked for data on vandalism frequency, but I suspect it’s not often reported. I also suspect none of the Governing Council candidates who chalked on private and public property had complaints or talks with police. The website of Reeves & Poole, maker of Funstuff Colors, says the non-toxic paint, made of pigment and chalk, is water-soluble. Just as bad as chalk; much better than unsustainable ink and paper pulp if you ask me.

The two told me passersby dipped their hands in and made a few prints. We should’ve examined their fingerprints. I expect warrants for their arrest posted promptly.

The dream of an Egyptian resurgance

Having inherited the legacy of the Pharaohs, I marvel at Egypt’s grandeur. With its rich history, natural resources, and dynamic culture, few can resist Egypt’s allure. Although the visceral image of Egypt as a desert, littered with pyramids and inhabited by camels, no way represents Egypt today, the stereotype is likely a lot more palatable to Westerners than the truth. Egypt is actually about as Arab as it gets—and nevertheless, a beacon of culture, art, and science for Arab countries around it. From Umm Kulthum, one of the greatest voices of our time, to Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, considered by many to be the greatest contemporary Arab writer of the 20th century, Egyptians have been the pride and glory of the Arab world since their heyday under Saladin.

Alas, a stroll down modern Cairo evokes none that sense of pride. Still touted as the “Arab Superpower,” Egypt remains underdeveloped and in desperate need of economic, political, and most importantly, social reform. The omnipresence of religion, along with a tradition of intransigence, result in endless social and political incongruities. The Egyptian constitution is replete with Caliphate-reminiscent laws that derive from religious texts, undermining the rights of minorities and women alike.

The whole social problem started with poverty. Along with an ever-stratified and inefficient government bureaucracy, people have been obliged to exploit fault lines in the moral fabric of society, leading to corruption. The average middle-to-upper class Egyptian doles out enough bribes to government officials to land him a 10-year sentence in a Western country, yet such actions are overtly overlooked as social idiosyncrasies. I have also come across no less than three ranking officers who bragged that they could drop a murder charge, or have it reduced to a misdemeanour in a matter of hours—for a nominal fee of course. Needless to say, few can afford to pay for their services.

To cope with everyday struggles (and there are many), Egyptians have developed a habit of blaming the government for any and all of the country’s shortcomings. Specifically, they make the case that during Hosni Mubarak’s 28-year, iron-fist reign as president, rampant corruption, unemployment, illiteracy, and a bedraggled education system have severely impaired the country’s economic progress.

They fail to note that, were it not for Mubarak’s deals with the United States, Egypt would have drowned in foreign debt back in the early ‘90s. Moreover, he managed to preserve a precarious peace agreement with Israel for almost three decades. It was also Mubarak who quashed a very real threat from radical fundamentalists that plagued Egypt in the ‘80s and much of the ‘90s.

There is no doubt that Mubarak’s efforts to contain terrorism have come at the expense of civil liberties, as his government worked to silence dissidence. Nevertheless, he has given radicals and fundamentalists a reason to think twice before enacting subversive activities that disturb the country’s delicate balance of secularism and piety.

Some religious fanatics actually have the audacity to call Mubarak out on his undemocratic leadership, particularly the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. If anything, the MB itself, which supposedly espouses the virtues of tolerance and democratic values, hopes to reinstate theocracy in Egypt by redrafting the constitution along sharia (Islamic law) lines. Alarmingly, they’ve gained a lot of ground.

With hypocrites threatening to take over the country, no wonder Mubarak decided to come down on them. Contrary to their propaganda, which you hear in mosques all around the country, Mubarak bears no more responsibility for the country’s moral failings than Egyptians themselves. As an example, consider a 2008 study conducted in Egyptian homes, which found that two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women, despite the fact that 80 per cent of them wear a veil. This is not a product of Mubarak’s secular policies, but rather of the MB’s own chauvinistic protocols.

Yet with all this, Egypt remains alive and well. The resolve of its people, as witnessed by centuries of history, has allowed it to persist, and who knows? Maybe one day Egypt can reconcile its internal strife, and rise to its former glory. Why not? One can dream.

More than meets the eye

The Sandford Fleming building is an elegant piece of architecture, a quiet ornament on King’s College Road. Next to its orange-lit big brother, Convocation Hall, it reflects a quiet grace.

As I push through Sanford Fleming’s heavy doors, I’m headed for the heart of the Computer Science Department, and expect to find muted hallways and rooms filled with machines I don’t understand. I’m armed with a pocket protector, and I’ve tucked in my button-down shirt. I expect I’ll fit right in.

But three steps into Sandford Fleming are enough to point out my mistake. The place is a flurry of students and buzzing conversations. It’s anything but dull.

U of T’s Department of Computer Science (DCS) was founded in 1964 and has become one of the top-ranked departments of its kind worldwide. From its humble beginnings as the first computer science department in Canada, it has paved the way for critical developments in the field, now home to 65 faculty, 300 graduate, and 800 undergraduate students. An impressive roster of research and faculty members includes some of the world’s top researchers, as well as Canada’s only Turing Award winner, Stephen Cook.

Contrary to popular belief, the field of computer science isn’t just about computers. It studies how computers interact with medicine, sciences, arts, and people. According to the Acting Chair of DCS, Sven Dickinson, “There’s a misconception among many people that computer science is all about sitting in front of a box and writing programs, in solitude, typically. But in fact, it’s much more than that. Computers have permeated every aspect of our lives, society, and professions.”

The computer science program encourages students to study the technological aspects of the field, but also helps them integrate their knowledge with other disciplines to explore new applications. The department has a strong interdisciplinary focus, not only bridging gaps between subfields of computer science, but also spanning to entirely different disciplines.

The research scope of DCS is very broad, covering everything from graphics and numerical analysis to networking, human-computer interaction (HCI), and artificial intelligence. These research areas have important applications to finance, weather prediction, and medical imaging, which allows DCS faculty to collaborate with researchers in many other domains.

Computer science intersects with disciplines like medicine, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and economics to tackle complex, real-world problems. According to Dickinson, getting to a solution requires a collective effort from many disciplines, including computer science. “Machines are making their way out into the world in almost every facet of life, and solving all these complex problems with these machines involves studying computer science and some other discipline. To do it right, I think you have to appreciate what those disciplines have to offer to the problem. And we’re encouraging our students to be able to pursue these interests in these areas.”

The undergraduate program in computer science provides students with an understanding of fundamental computer science, as well as many opportunities to pursue research with faculty members or independently. As they progress through the program, students can explore different areas, and can enter specialist programs that combine computer science with economics, statistics, cognitive science, physics, or mathematics.

Although enrolment dropped in recent years following the “dot-com bust,” the numbers have started to creep back up again. “This drop in enrolment happened all across the continent,” says Dickinson. “A lot of students felt that maybe there weren’t a lot of jobs out there—which is an incorrect perception. In fact, there are more jobs out there right now than there ever were.”

Graduating with a degree in computer science opens up a variety of career options, with DCS graduates working in areas like IT, industry research, economic development, health sciences, game design, and health care. DCS also offers studies at the graduate level for those who wish to pursue a career in academic research.

“There isn’t a single discipline out there that isn’t being affected by computer science,” says Dickinson. “We’re interested in newer, faster, more reliable technology—smaller, more compact. We’re interested in designing new languages. We’re interested in making machines more efficient, distributing computation, and having machines work well with each other. These are extremely challenging, fascinating, fundamental problems in computer science. But we’re so much more than that as well, in terms of taking these machines out into the world and solving problems that involve people.

“It moves beyond just the pure technology into how to use computers to affect positive change in the world, and make the world a better place.”

Students, staff blast proposed changes to Transitional Year Programme

At a town hall meeting on Saturday, faculty and students criticized U of T admin’s proposed changes to the Transitional Year Programme. TYP is a bridging program for full-time direct-entry students who do not have formal academic qualifications. U of T is proposing that it develop closer ties with a bridging program for part-time students, housed at Woodsworth College, and that a single office at Woodsworth run both programs.

“U of T is not getting rid of the Transitional Year Program (TYP),” said university spokesperson Rob Steiner. “ One of the recommendations asked if it would make sense to bring the two programs closer together, while still keeping them distinct because they serve distinct populations.”

According to Steiner, the possible integration is still under discussion and no formal steps have been taken.
At the town hall, TYP staff, alumni, and current students said a synthesis isn’t feasible because TYP is too different from the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program for part-timers.

“Putting it with the Academic Bridging is very much like getting rid of the Transitional Year Programme. In the former people attend school part-time, take one course for three months of the year. Whereas TYP is a year-long program where support is provided to students and built into the program,” said APUS president Murphy Brown.
“Though [the university] says that we are only discussing possibilities, the discussion is taking a very definite route without student consultation,” said Ahmed Ahmed, a TYP student.

The current director of TYP, Prof. Rhonda Love, has been meeting with Woodsworth principle Joseph R. Desloges to develop a proposal for Governing Council subcommittees.

Ahmed said the issue at stake is TYP’s status as an autonomous body. Currently, TYP reports directly to, and gets funding from, the provost, like a professional faculty. Under proposed changes, it would be run from Woodsworth College and fall under the Arts and Science umbrella, with its budget consigned to the faculty’s jurisdiction.

The TYP community also voiced concerns on cuts to the programme’s operating budget and lack of a plan to replace retiring faculty, which could compromise the program’s long-term health. The program received a four per cent budget cut this year.

“For the University to recommend casually that we lose these things after generations of students have successfully have gone through the program is quite frankly insulting. And to frame it in such a way that this will potentially benefit us when people fought for these things to be implemented in the first place is again insulting,” said Ahmed.

Gastronomy: Dieting

Ideals of masculinity and femininity pervade the mass media, a continual reminder of unattainable perfection. Dieting fads vary by season, and countless regimens guarantee to help one lose weight in an unrealistically rapid amount of time. Why do fad diets never work?

Firstly, there are myths to be aware of before self-prescribing to a diet plan. Many falsely believe that to lose fat they must cut fat from their diets. Dietician Lyndel Costain says, “You should still have a third of your calories coming from fat. The body needs fat for energy, tissue repair, and to transport vitamins A, D, E, and K around the body.” Increasing healthy unsaturated fat intake while cutting out trans fats and trimming saturated fats is a good start.

Fasting or crash dieting can result in quick weight loss in the short term but according to nutritionist and researcher, Claire MacEvilly. “Losing weight over the long term burns off fat. Crash dieting or fasting not only removes fat but also lean muscle and tissue.” This will result in decreasing one’s basal metabolic rate and daily caloric intake requirement, increasing the likelihood of weight gain once off dieting. Skipping meals similarly decreases metabolic rate. Long-term weight loss plans won’t jolt your metabolism and are a safer alternative.

Struggling dieters may believe that a slow metabolism is the cause of their weight loss setbacks. Studies have indicated that resting metabolism actually increases with body mass. Instead, sedentary lifestyles and excessive caloric intake are largely responsible for weight issues in North American society.

It takes an extra 3,500 calories to gain a pound of body fat, and the reverse is true for weight loss. Eating fattening foods will not result in immediate weight gain, Costain explains. “If the scales say you’ve gained a few pounds after a meal out, it’s largely due to fluid, which will resolve itself.” So skip the guilt trip if you’ve indulged in a treat while dieting. In the long-term scope of things, one chocolate bar really won’t make a difference.

Low-fat and fat-free labels trick consumers into believing that they’ve chosen a healthier alternative. Costain warns consumers to be wary of these labels: “Extra sugars and thickeners are often added to boost flavour and texture, so calorie content may be only a bit less.” Nutritionist Alison Sullivan adds, “[These alternatives] may be low in fat, but are high in sugar which turns to fat. With low fat foods, look to see where else the calories might come from.”

Many diet regimens put people at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies, so a physician or dietician should be consulted to create a suitable plan.