The first Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meeting was held in 1960 in Los Angeles, California. Since that time it has grown to about 7,000 meetings in more than 80 countries—about 54,000 members.
OA is not just about weight loss, weight gain or maintenance, obesity or diets. The OA program offers physical, emotional and spiritual recovery for those who suffer from compulsive eating. Members find recovery on all three levels by following a Twelve-Step program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. Members who recover through the Twelve Steps find that yo-yo dieting and obsession with food is a thing of the past.
OA is not affiliated with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology or religious doctrine and takes no position on issues outside of its own program. No membership dues or fees are required for participation in OA. The organization is self-supporting through members’ voluntary donations and the sale of OA literature.
In OA, you’ll find members who are morbidly obese, extremely or moderately overweight, average weight or underweight; still maintaining periodic control over their eating behavior; or totally unable to control their compulsive eating. The only requirement for membership in OA is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
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
Similar to other Twelve Step programs, a key tenet of OA is anonymity, which offers members freedom of expression, equality and safeguards within the OA community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, television and other media of communication provides assurance that OA membership will not be disclosed. This protects both the individual and OA membership as a whole.
copyright held by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., used with permission