What is Overeaters Anonymous?
Overeaters Anonymous is a Fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. We welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively.
There are no dues or fees for members; we are self-supporting through our own contributions, neither soliciting nor accepting outside donations. OA is not affiliated with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology or religious doctrine; we take no position on outside issues.
Our primary purpose is to abstain from compulsive eating and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer.
Who Belongs to OA?
In Overeaters Anonymous, you’ll find members who are extremely overweight, morbidly obese, moderately overweight, average weight, underweight, still maintaining periodic control over their eating behavior, or totally unable to control their compulsive eating.
OA members experience many different patterns of food behaviors. These “symptoms” are as varied as our membership. Among them are:
- obsession with body weight, size and shape
- eating binges or grazing
- preoccupation with reducing diets
- laxative or diuretic abuse
- excessive exercise
- inducing vomiting after eating
- chewing and spitting out food
- use of diet pills, shots and other medical interventions to control weight
- inability to stop eating certain foods after taking the first bite
- fantasies about food
- vulnerability to quick-weight-loss schemes
- constant preoccupation with food
- using food as a reward or comfort
Our symptoms may vary, but we share a common bond: we are powerless over food and our lives are unmanageable. This common problem has led those in OA to seek and find a common solution in the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and eight tools of Overeaters Anonymous.
What you find at OA Meetings:
Acceptance of you – as you are now, as you were, as you will be.
Understanding of the problems you now face – problems almost certainly shared by others in the group.
Communication that comes as the natural result of our mutual understanding and acceptance.
Recovery from your illness.
Power to enter a new way of life through the acceptance and understanding of yourself, the practice of the Twelve-Step recovery program, the belief in a power greater than yourself, and the support and companionship of the group
What you WON’T find at OA meetings are weigh-ins, packaged meals, dues, fees, “shoulds,” “musts” or judgment.
How do OA members lose weight and maintain their normal weight?
OA is not a diet club and makes no claims for weight loss. The concept of abstinence is the basis of OA’s program of recovery. By admitting the inability to control compulsive overeating in the past and abandoning the idea that all one needs is “a little willpower,” it becomes possible to abstain from overeating—one day at a time.
While a diet can help us lose weight, it often intensifies the compulsion to overeat. The solution offered by OA does not include diet tips. We don’t furnish food plans or diets, counseling services, hospitalization, or treatment; nor does OA participate in or conduct research and training in the field of eating disorders. For weight loss, any medically approved eating plan is acceptable.
OA members interested in learning about nutrition or who seek professional advice are encouraged to consult qualified professionals. We may freely use such help, with the assurance that OA supports each of us in our efforts to recover.
How is OA funded?
Overeaters Anonymous has no dues or fees for membership. It is entirely self-supporting through contributions and the sale of publications. Most groups “pass the basket” at meetings to cover expenses. OA does not solicit or accept outside contributions.
Who runs OA?
OA has no central government and a minimum of formal organization. At the local, regional, and international levels responsible members serve OA and its fellowship by volunteering to organize and lead meetings, conduct activities and sit on the Board of Trustees.
The World Service Office is a service center whose main function is to carry the OA message to the many compulsive overeaters who still suffer. The World Service Office publishes and distributes literature, maintains records on all registered groups, intergroups, regions and national service boards, and issues meeting directories. The World Service Office also acts as a public information clearing house.
How did OA start?
The idea of OA came to cofounder Rozanne S. at a Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meeting she attended with a compulsive gambling friend in 1958. As GA members shared their stories, she heard her story—not of gambling, but of compulsive overeating. She knew then that the Twelve-Step and Twelve-Tradition program founded by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and modeled by GA offered her a chance to change her life and reduce her 152-pound body to a size that would fit her 5-foot-2-inch frame. Not until 1960, when her weight had increased to 161 pounds, could she find other people who shared her convictions.
Her chance meeting with a new neighbor, Jo S., gave Rozanne strength in numbers, even if it was only one person. Together they found another compulsive overeater, Bernice S., and convened the first OA meeting in Hollywood, California, on January 19, 1960.
Today, about 325 service bodies hold 6,000 meetings each week in 75 countries. OA helps thousands of compulsive overeaters find themselves through a threefold recovery: physical, emotional, and spiritual. (from Recovery into the Millennium, copyright 2000, OA, Inc.).
Reprinted with permission from the World Service Office of Overeaters Anonymous.
(For more on OA’s history, read Beyond Our Wildest Dreams ).