Dr. Denise Edwards helps Florida Sports Hall of Fame tackle childhood obesity

To bolster its effort to fight childhood obesity, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame has partnered with USF’s Denise Edwards, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and director of the USF Healthy Weight Clinic.

Dr. Denise Edwards

At the press conference, Dr. Denise Edwards answers questions about tackling 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 Feb. 24 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum 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.

“We welcome Dr. Edwards, who is one of the state’s leading experts in childhood obesity,” he said, introducing Dr. Edwards to those gathered at the press conference.

Following the formal announcements, Dr. Edwards fielded questions from media about the childhood obesity epidemic and her aims for helping FSHOF in its campaign.

“Our hope is that the Florida Sports Hall of Fame members can use their celebrity status to really get the message out of how important fitness is to good health and that these good habits will keep us healthy throughout our lives,” Dr. Edwards said.

A faculty member since 2006, Dr. Edwards is the Director of 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 the press conference, the FSHOF announced this year’s inductees and special award winners: 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