About OA

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.

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 nine tools of Overeaters Anonymous.

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.

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, or not to think about them at all if they so choose.

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.

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 approximately 54,000 members worldwide, it helps thousands of compulsive eaters find new life in recovery.

 copyright Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., used by permission

Still not sure if OA is for you?

Here are some questions that may help you determine if you have a problem with compulsive eating.

Thinking about attending an OA meeting?

Read more about what you can expect at an OA meeting.

Find a meeting in the Greater Seattle Area, King County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, Island County, Pierce County, Thurston County, Grays Harbor County, and the Olympic Peninsula.