Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a fellowship of people from all walks of life that comprises of a twelve step program which deals with problems and finds solutions related to food including compulsive over eating, anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders. The Overeaters Anonymous recovery program addresses emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions of compulsive overeating. It differs from group therapy in that OA does not allow participants to express their feelings directly and openly to each other in their meetings. Instead, participants use group forums for expression of strength, hope and experience. There are approximately seven thousand, five hundred Overeaters Anonymous meeting groups spread in fifty countries all over the world.
The Overeaters Anonymous recovery program is open to women and men of all ages, race and color from the world over who have been battling with overeating issues and have the sole desire to abstain, grow and participate in the recovery program. Through OA, members are encouraged to fully accept their inability to control compulsive overeating and come to terms with the fact that will power alone cannot make one automatically eat normally. Participants are encouraged to accept that abstinence from overeating is a gradual process that will require a physical, emotional and spiritual recovery before it can be attained fully. Members are also encouraged to follow an eating plan by first seeking and consulting professional help as per diet and nutrition.
Major concerns have been raise over the fact that Overeaters Anonymous are prone to become cultic in a bid to adhere and depend on the program. This influence can destructively isolate the members following the program. However since studies have shown that OA is flexible to other therapeutic interventions apart from the twelve step program, such as individual psychotherapy, religion, regular physical exercise and the use antidepressants, these concerns have not received much attention.
Overeaters Anonymous twelve step program was originally adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous program and is as a set of guiding principles about recovery that covers behavioral, addictive and compulsive problems. The program includes a persons admittance and identification of compulsive overeating as a problem, recognizing the strength that comes with power, using an experienced member to examine and identify past errors, making amends and correcting the errors identified, adapting a new lifestyle as per the behavior code and finally being able to help and assist other compulsive overeating sufferers using the same guidelines.
Apart from the twelve steps, OA has twelve traditions that guide its members and 12 concepts pertaining to its administration. The tradition in summary includes being unified for one cause, an abstinence requirement on all members, spreading the message, and maintenance of anonymity.
OA is self sponsored by contributions made by members and it does not have a centralized government. Membership is free and there are no charges made. Overeaters Anonymous does deal with weight gain, weight maintenance, weight loss, obesity and diets. It would be the best choice for compulsive overeaters who need support and encouragement to overcome their addiction.