What is OA?
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 compulsive food behaviors and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer.
Now that you have found Overeaters Anonymous, you may want to make sure our program is right for you. Many of us have found it useful to answer a few questions to help determine if we have a problem with compulsive eating
Who belongs to OA?
In Overeaters Anonymous, you’ll find members who are extremely overweight, even 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:
How did OA start?
The idea of OA came to founder 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 (69-kg) body to a size that would fit her 5-foot-2-inch (157-cm) frame. Not until 1960, when her weight had increased to 161 pounds (73 kg), 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 Los Angeles, California, January 19, 1960.
Today, about 6,500 OA groups meet each week in over 75 countries. With OA divided into 10 regions worldwide and over 60,000 members worldwide, it helps thousands of compulsive eaters find new life in recovery.
(For more on OA’s history, read Beyond Our Wildest Dreams.)
Where can I find OA?
Go to the Find a Meeting page on this website and follow the instructions to find a meeting in your area or worldwide via the World Service Office website.
How Is OA funded?
Overeaters Anonymous has no dues or fees for membership. It is entirely self-supporting through literature sales and member contributions. Most groups “pass the basket” at meetings to cover expenses. OA does not solicit or accept outside contributions.
What does OA offer?
We offer unconditional acceptance and support through readily available OA meetings, which are self-supported through voluntary contributions.
We in OA believe we have a threefold illness—physical, emotional and spiritual. Tens of thousands have found that OA’s Twelve-Step program effects recovery on all three levels.
The Twelve Steps embody a set of principles which, when followed, promote inner change. Sponsors help us understand and apply these principles. As old attitudes are discarded, we often find there is no longer a need for excess food.
Those of us who choose to recover one day at a time practice the Twelve Steps. In so doing, we achieve a new way of life and lasting freedom from our food obsession.
For more, please read Our Invitation to You, which summarizes what OA offers and how it can help the still suffering compulsive eater find recovery.
How do OA members lose weight and maintain a healthy weight?
We are not a “diet” club. We do not endorse any particular plan of eating. In OA, abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Once we become abstinent, the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely. We then find that, to deal with our inner turmoil, we have to have a new way of thinking, of acting on life rather than reacting to it-in essence, a new way of living.
Why is OA anonymous?
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. Anonymity assures us that only we, as individual OA members, have the right to make our membership known to others. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members.
Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be respected and kept confidential. What we hear at meetings should remain there.
Is OA a religious organization?
OA is not a religious society, since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition of membership. OA has among its membership people of many religious faiths as well as atheists and agnostics.
The OA recovery program is based on acceptance of certain spiritual values. Members are free to interpret these values as they think best.
Many individuals who come to OA have reservations about accepting any concept of a power greater than themselves. OA experience has shown that those who keep an open mind on this subject and continue coming to OA meetings will not find it too difficult to work out their own solution to this very personal matter.