Our mission is to reduce the prevalence and adverse consequences of obesity. We seek to advance knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms by which socioeconomic and psychological stress influences obesity, and to develop effective and innovative interventions. 

Elissa Epel, COAST Director

Aging, Metabolism and Emotion Center (AME)


Consortium for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment (COAST) is a multidisciplinary research center based at the University of California, San Francisco, and is part of the UCSF NIDDK NORC and Center for Health and Community (CHC)

We conduct innovative research that helps to further understand the mechanisms by which stress influences obesity. Our research team also develops effective, evidence based interventions that take into account environmental factors contributing to a toxic food supply, socioeconomic and psychological stress, reward drive, and food addiction. 

Working in interdisciplinary teams across the University, our clinical and translational research team investigates the influence of psychosocial stressors on metabolism, eating behavior and nutrition, physical activity, fat distribution, and weight gain trajectories throughout the life course of diverse populations. We test translational research concepts spanning from basic science to epidemiologic and intervention studies.  In addition to traditional clinical trials, we actively support studies that are multi-level interventions, like the UCSF Healthy Beverage Initiative, as well as a new model of clinical intervention development research, influenced by the NIH ORBIT model and Science of Behavior Change

Epel and colleagues led the COAST center for 10 years, funded in part by grants from the UCOP Multicampus Research Program.  (2007 to 2017).  COAST is no longer a separate center but is now part of the UCSF NORC. The decade of COAST annual meetings provides a valuable video resource on many evergreen topics, as shown below.


COAST Center Events

COAST hosted consecutive years of free symposia that offered an inside look at the latest science on sugar, metabolism, and obesity to the public. Click the links below to watch the talks on our YouTube channel!

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The Exposome and Metabolic Health

Co-sponsored with the SSEW Initiative

The 2018 Sugar, Stress, Environment & Weight Symposium explored how our social, psychological and physical environments create metabolic disease. Watch leading researchers from across the University of California discuss how chemical exposures, air and water pollution, neighborhood quality, stress, processed food production/consumption and health policy shape our future. 

View YouTube Video ➤

Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity, Stress, & Obesity 

Co-sponsored with the SSEW Initiative

In 2017 The UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) & the UCLA School of Law Resnick Program for Food Policy and Law presented Hungry For Change. The event invited critical exchange between forward-thinking researchers, healthcare providers, and policy advocates who are working to address many of the most urgent public health issues of our time: food insecurity, stress, obesity, and social equity. See speakers such as Drs. Kelly Brownell, Neal Baer, and Hilary Seligman discuss the event themes.

View YouTube Video ➤

Food & Addiction: Policy, Environment, and Individual Factors

Co-sponsored with the SSEW Initiative

Our 2016 symposia united health professionals and influential policy makers from the UC-wide system and beyond to explore the intersections of biology, behavior, food and addiction. Topics included how to prevent food addiction across the lifespan for individuals and communities through academically inspired activism, institutional interventions, and public policy. See all talks and opening remarks delivered by UC President Janet Napolitano at our YouTube Channel

View YouTube Video ➤

Gut Feelings: The microbiome, the mind, and metabolic health

Co-sponsored with the SSEW Initiative 

Our 2015 symposium centered obesity, the microbiome, & the brain. We hosted an impressive lineup of microbiome researchers from UCSF, UCLA, and UCSD. Watch ted-style talks by top researchers and policy makers in the field of microbiome research on UCTV at our YouTube Channel.

View YouTube Video ➤

Is There Any Hope of Reducing Obesity?

2014 COAST Seminar 

Stress, Obesity, & Pregnancy: The Next Generation

6th Annual SSEW/COAST Symposium

Our 2014 symposium was attended by over 150 people from a variety of backgrounds, including students, health care professionals researchers, and staff from the Alameda, Contra Cost, and San Francisco Public Health Departments.

View YouTube Video ➤

Pregnancy as a "Window of Opportunity for Intervention: Obesity, Stress, and Perinatal Outcomes

2013 COAST Seminar 


Sleep, Stress, & Obesity: A Weighty Issue

5th Annual COAST Symposium

Obesity is our nation’s greatest epidemic and public health challenge and the folks at the UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) have found an interesting new angle in which to approach it — through sleep.

In one of the first scientific conferences to focus on the interactions between sleep, stress and obesity, COAST gathered together leading researchers from across the country to examine the problem from a variety of interesting angles, including how sleep and stress impact our metabolism and brain function, why adequate sleep and stress reduction may be the 21st century pillars of health, and more. And now you can join in on this groundbreaking exchange of information.

View YouTube Video ➤

Optimal Diets for Longevity

2012 COAST Seminar 

Sugar Highs and Lows: Dietary Sugar, the Brain, & Metabolic Outcomes

4th Annual COAST Symposium

View YouTube Video ➤

Food & Addiction: Environmental, Psychological and Biological Perspectives

3rd Annual COAST Symposium

View YouTube Video ➤

Stress, Gestational Weight, & Implications for the Life Course

2nd Annual COAST Symposium

Stress, Neuroscience, and Obesity: Past Reflections and Current Directions

1st Annual COAST Symposium