The worldwide increase in the prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes represents a tremendous challenge for the Canadian health care system, especially if we consider that this phenomenon may largely be explained by the epidemic of obesity. However, despite the well-recognized increased morbidity and mortality associated with an elevated body weight, there is now more and more evidence highlighting the importance of intra-abdominal adipose tissue (visceral adipose tissue) as the fat depot conveying the greatest risk of metabolic complications. In this regard, body fat distribution, especially visceral adipose tissue accumulation, has been found to be a key correlate of a cluster of diabetogenic, atherogenic, prothrombotic and inflammatory metabolic abnormalities now often referred to as the metabolic syndrome. This dysmetabolic profile is predictive of a substantially increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) even in the absence of hyperglycemia, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or hypertension. For instance, some features of the metabolic syndrome (hyperinsulinemia, elevated apolipoprotein B and small low-density lipoprotein particles--the so-called atherogenic metabolic triad) have been associated with a more than 20-fold increase in the risk of ischemic heart disease in middle-aged men enrolled in the Quebec Cardiovascular Study. This cluster of metabolic complications has also been found to be predictive of a substantially increased risk of CAD beyond the presence of traditional risk factors. These results emphasize the importance of taking into account in daily clinical practice the presence of metabolic complications associated with abdominal obesity together with traditional risk factors to properly evaluate the cardiovascular risk profile of patients. From a risk assessment standpoint, on the basis of additional work conducted by several groups, there is now evidence that the simultaneous presence of an elevated waist circumference and fasting triglyceride levels (a condition that has been described as hypertriglyceridemic waist) may represent a relevant first-step approach to identify a subgroup of individuals at higher risk of being carriers of the features of the metabolic syndrome. Moreover, a moderate weight loss in initially abdominally obese patients is associated with a selective mobilization of visceral adipose tissue, leading to improvements in the metabolic risk profile predictive of a reduced risk of CAD and type 2 diabetes. In conclusion, hypertriglyceridemic waist as a marker of visceral obesity and related metabolic abnormalities is a useful and practical clinical phenotype to screen persons at risk for CAD and type 2 diabetes.