What is OA? / How did OA start? / Who belongs to OA? / What does OA offer?
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 overeating and to carry this message of recovery to those who still suffer.

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, January 19, 1960.

Today, about 6,500 OA groups meet each week in over 65 countries. With OA divided into 10 regions worldwide and approximately 400 intergroups, it helps thousands of compulsive overeaters find themselves through a threefold recovery: physical, emotional and spiritual.

(For more on OA’s history, read Beyond Our Wildest Dreams

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

>> Obsession with body weight, size and shape
>> Eating binges or grazing
>> Preoccupation with reducing diets
>> Starving
>> 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 Tools of recovery of Overeaters Anonymous.

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.