What is OA?
Overeaters Anonymous is basically a fellowship of mostly women, but a lot of men, who meet in order to help solve a common problem - compulsive overeating. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. Anorexics, bulimics, and garden variety overeaters find their welcome here.
OA is a true non-profit international organization that provides volunteer support groups worldwide; no one makes any money off of it, except the printers who print the books - maybe. Modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step 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. I joined OA back in 1987. I knew I was home at the very first meeting.
How did OA start?
In January 1960, three people living in 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 8,500 meeting groups in over 50 countries throughout the world.
How do OA members lose weight and maintain their normal weight?
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. It's similar to quitting drinking in AA. The major difference is you can stop drinking alcohol - you can't stop eating food. So instead of caging up the tiger forever, it's a little like taking the tiger for a walk three times a day.
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 ecommends 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.
Who are OA members?
There was an OA 1992 Gallup survey of OA's membership. I have no idea how they managed to do this survey, since it's such an anonymous program, but apparently the average OA member is a 44 year old woman who began eating compulsively at 14. She has been an OA member for over 4 years and has lost over 40 pounds. She states that her emotional and mental health is the aspect of her life that has most improved since joining OA.
I joined in my 30's. I remember having a healthy relationship with food until I was about 8 or 9. I was in OA for four years, then thought I had graduated. I then was out for about five or six years. The first three years I was fine - then the disease came back. I've been back in OA now for almost two years - and I know now I'll never graduate.
Some of this is taken from reading some of the OA literature, paraphrased, and some of it is my own experience.