Dr. Denise Edwards urges Florida sports group to help fight childhood obesity

Some of Florida’s biggest names in sports were inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame (FSHOF) at the group’s recent induction ceremony. The event also featured a charge to broaden the effort for fighting childhood obesity from USF’s Dr. Denise Edwards.

Recently partnering with FSHOF and its Fame for Fitness program, Dr. Edwards, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and director of the USF Healthy Weight Clinic, spoke at the induction banquet, urging the group to encourage youth of the state to be active and pursue an overall healthy lifestyle.

“As a physician who treats childhood obesity as well as diabetes on a daily basis, I am so pleased that the Florida Sports Hall of Fame is bringing recognition to these serious problems,” Dr. Edwards said.

“Obesity is considered the second leading cause of preventable deaths – second only to smoking. We know that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity is the best way to prevent and treat all of these problems.  The Florida Sports Hall of Fame’s Fame for Fitness initiative is a fantastic way to bring not only more awareness of this serious problem, but more action to combat it.”

photo of Dr. Denise Edwards speaking at FSHOF induction ceremony

Dr. Denise Edwards urges FSHOF partners to help in the fight against childhood obesity.


An expert in childhood obesity, Dr. Edwards joined the group’s statewide effort to tackle childhood obesity and will help coordinate much of the educational components of the program. Dr. Edwards was introduced at a FSHOF press conference held in February that announced this year’s hall of fame inductees.

FSHOF recently adopted a mission to fight childhood obesity and diabetes, recognizing its members could use their celebrity status to help make a significant impact on efforts to rein in the current epidemic, said Rick Dantzler, president of FSHOF. The group reached out to Dr. Edwards to help broaden the scope of impact by providing a strong medical and educational component.

A faculty member since 2006, Dr. Edwards directs the Healthy Weight Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic for children, adolescents, and adults she established in 2007 to treat the entire spectrum of eating disorders including obesity in children and adults. The Clinic provides a comprehensive, family-based approach to children and adolescents who have a variety of eating disorders ranging from anorexia and bulimia to obesity. In addition to the medical evaluation, each patient has access to a nutritionist, psychologist, and physical therapist. Located at the USF Health South Tampa Center the clinic is available on a weekly basis.

Dr. Edwards also helps direct a bariatric pre-operative assessment team which prepares patients for bariatric surgery. Her primary interests are obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and she has received several grants related to the prevention of childhood obesity. In addition to her activities related to weight control, Dr. Edwards serves as medical director of the Transition Planning and Assessment Team of the Children’s Medical Service.

The Florida Sports Hall of Fame recognizes and honors Florida’s greatest sports figures and events, and leverages this collective celebrity to promote fitness awareness, education and sports activities among our state’s youth and adults. Equally important is the promotion of the qualities of discipline and honor among sports participants. The FSHOF has 205 members and the outstanding memorabilia from these individuals is displayed at the museum preview center at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale, FL. At their recent banquet in Tampa, the FSHOF inducted the following: Vince Coleman – Baseball – Class of 2012; Fred McGriff, baseball; Alonzo Mourning, basketball; Dick Anderson, football; Henry Lawrence, football; George Smith, football; Charlie Ward, football and basketball; Gary Koch, golf; Joan Joyce, softball; Dave Roberts, track; Roland Martin, watersports – fishing; Kelly Slater, watersports – surfing; Russ Cozart, wrestling; and Ryan Nece ,Fame for Fitness Award.

Story and photos by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Office of Communications, Photo by Barry Lively.