Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of people from all walks of life who meet in order to help solve a common problem – compulsive overeating. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. OA is a non-profit international organization that provides volunteer support groups worldwide. Patterned after the Twelve-Step Alcoholics Anonymous program, the OA recovery program addresses physical, emotional and spiritual recovery aspects of compulsive overeating. Members are encouraged to seek professional help for individual diet/nutrition plans and for any emotional or physical problems.

In January 1960, three people living in southern California began meeting for the purpose of helping each other with their eating problems. They had tried everything else and failed. The program they followed was patterned after the Alcoholics Anonymous program. From that first meeting, OA has grown until today there are approximately 7,500 meeting groups in over 50 countries throughout the world.

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 inability to control compulsive overeating in the past, and abandoning the idea that all one needs to be able to eat normally is “a little willpower,” it becomes possible to abstain from overeating – one day at a time. OA offers members support in dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of compulsive overeating, and recommends emotional, spiritual and physical recovery changes through the Twelve-Steps. OA members are encouraged to follow a plan of eating. Each OA member should consult qualified professionals for their individual diet/nutrition plan, any medically approved plan of eating is acceptable.

OA members are people of all ages from all over the world who wish to abstain form compulsive overeating and who wish to carry this message of recovery to those who still suffer. Members include but are not limited to overeaters, under-eaters, those having a food addiction, anorexics, bulimics, binge eaters, over exercises, purgers and those who suffer from other compulsive food behaviors.

Overeaters Anonymous has no dues or fees for membership. It is entirely self-supporting through contributions and sale of publications. Most groups “pass the basket” at meetings to cover expenses. OA does not solicit or accept outside contributions.

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.

Fifteen Questions

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 the following questions to help determine if we have a problem with compulsive eating.

Are You a Compulsive Eater?

Yes No
1. Do I eat when I’m not hungry, or not eat when my body needs nourishment?
2. Do I go on eating binges for no apparent reason, sometimes eating until I’m stuffed or even feel sick?
3. Do I have feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment about my weight or the way I eat?
4. Do I eat sensibly in front of others and then make up for it when I am alone?
5. Is my eating affecting my health or the way I live my life?
6. When my emotions are intense—whether positive or negative—do I find myself reaching for food?
7. Do my eating behaviors make me or others unhappy?
8. Have I ever used laxatives, vomiting, diuretics, excessive exercise, diet pills, shots, or other medical interventions (including surgery) to try to control my weight?
9. Do I fast or severely restrict my food intake to control my weight?
10. Do I fantasize about how much better life would be if I were a different size or weight?
11. Do I need to chew or have something in my mouth all the time: food, gum, mints, candies, or beverages?
12. Have I ever eaten food that is burned, frozen, or spoiled; from containers in the grocery store; or out of the garbage?
13. Are there certain foods I can’t stop eating after having the first bite?
14. Have I lost weight with a diet or “period of control” only to be followed by bouts of uncontrolled eating and/or weight gain?
15. Do I spend too much time thinking about food, arguing with myself about whether or what to eat, planning the next diet or exercise cure, or counting calories?

Have you answered “yes” to several of these questions? If so, it is possible that you have, or are well on your way to having, a compulsive eating or overeating problem. Continue to look through the resources on our website. For more information, you can go to the Overeaters Anonymous website,

OA Board Approved.
Reprinted from Fifteen Questions
© 1986, 1989, 2012 by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved.

Welcome to OA – Welcome Home

Have you ever wished you could lose ten pounds, twenty, forty, or a hundred or more? Have you ever wished that once you got it off you could keep it off? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you sometimes felt out of step with the world, like a homeless orphan without a place where you really belong? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever wished your family would get to work or school so that you could get busy eating? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever awakened first thing in the morning and felt happy because you remembered that your favorite goodie was waiting for you in the fridge or in the cupboard? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered what an insignificant person like you was doing in the world anyway? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever cooked, bought or baked for your family and then eaten everything yourself so that you wouldn’t have to share? We know you in OA because we are you. Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever wanted to hide in the house, without going to work, without getting cleaned up or even getting dressed, without seeing anyone or letting anyone see you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever hidden food under the bed, under the pillow, in the drawer, -in the bathroom, in the wastebasket, the cupboard, the clothes hamper, the closet or the car so that you could eat without anyone seeing you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever been angry, resentful, defiant – against God, your mate, your doctor, your mother, your father, your friends, your children, the salesperson in the store whose look spoke a thousand words as you tried on clothes – because they were thin, because they wanted you to be thin, and because you were forced to diet to please them or shut them up or make them eat their words and their looks? We welcome you to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever sobbed out your misery in the dark night because no one loved or understood you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever felt that God (if God existed at all) made the biggest mistake when God created you? Can you see that this is where such feelings get turned around? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever wanted to get on a bus and just keep going, without ever once looking back? Did you do it? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever thought the whole world was a mess and if they would just think and act like you, the world would be a lot better or. Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever thought that OA people must be a bit nuts? That they might be compulsive overeaters, but you just have a weight problem which you can take care of beginning tomorrow; they might be one bite from insane eating, but you are just a little or a lot overweight? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever told anyone who would listen how great you are, how talented, how intelligent, how powerful – all the time knowing they would never believe it, because you didn’t believe it? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever lost all your weight and found that you were thin-unhappy instead of fat-unhappy? Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Have you ever worn a mask or hundreds of masks because you were sure that if you shared the person you really were no one could ever love or accept you? We accept you in OA. May we offer you a home?

Overeaters Anonymous extends to all of you the gift of acceptance. No matter who you are, where you come from or where you are heading, you are welcome here! No matter what you have done or failed to do, what you have felt or haven’t felt, where you have slept, or with whom, who you have loved or hated – you may be sure of our acceptance. We accept you as you are, not as you would be if you could melt yourself and mold yourself and shape yourself into what other people think you should be. Only you can decide what you want to be.

But we will help you work for the goals you set, and when you are successful we will rejoice with you; and when you slip, we will tell you that we are not failures just because we sometimes fail, and we’ll hold out our arms, in love, and stand beside you as you pull yourself back up and walk on again to where you are heading! You’ll never have to cry alone again, unless you choose to.

Sometimes we fail to be all that we should be, and sometimes we aren’t, there to give you all you need from us. Accept our imperfection too. Love us in return and help us in our sometimes- falling failing. That’s what we are in OA – imperfect, but trying. Let’s rejoice together in our effort and in the assurance that we can have a home, if we want one. Welcome to OA; welcome home!

Reprinted from Lifeline magazine
September | October 1977

Our Invitation To You

We of Overeaters Anonymous have made a discovery. At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we’re in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health, and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.

We’ve found that the reasons for the illness are unimportant. What deserves the attention of the still-suffering compulsive overeater is this: There is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness.

The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholic Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words “alcohol” and “alcoholic” to “food” and “compulsive eater.” As our personal stories attest, the Twelve Step program of recovery works as well for compulsive eaters as it does for alcoholics.

Can we guarantee you this recovery? The answer is simple. If you’ll honestly face the truth about yourself and the illness; if you’ll keep coming back to meetings to talk and listen to other recovering compulsive eaters; if you’ll read our literature and that of Alcoholics Anonymous with an open mind; and most important, if you’re willing to rely on a power greater than yourself for direction in your life, and to take the Twelve Steps to the best of your ability, we believe you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover.

To remedy the emotional, physical and spiritual illness of compulsive overeating we offer several suggestions, but keep in mind that the basis of the program is spiritual, as evidenced by the Twelve Steps. We aren’t a “diet and calories” club. We don’t endorse any particular plan of eating. 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.

From this vantage point, we begin the Twelve Step program of recovery, moving beyond the food and the emotional havoc to a fuller living experience. As a result of practicing the Steps, the symptom of compulsive overeating is removed on a daily basis, achieved through the process of surrendering to something greater than ourselves; the more total our surrender, the more fully realized our freedom from food addiction.

Here are the Steps as adapted for Overeaters Anonymous.

“But I’m too weak. I’ll never make it!” Don’t worry, we’ve all thought and said the same thing. The amazing secret to the success of this program is just that: weakness. It is weakness, not strength, that binds us to each other and to a higher power and somehow gives us the ability to do what we cannot do alone. If you decide you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance. You’re not alone any more. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home.