The OA Program
- What is OA?
- How can I lose weight?
- How is OA different from commercial weight-loss programs?
- What is the format of an OA meeting?
- Is OA affiliated with AA or any other anonymous fellowship or medical group interested in obesity?
- If I have friends or family members who need OA, will you send them information?
- How does OA define abstinence and recovery?
- What is the difference between an open group and a closed group?
- I’m anorexic/bulimic. Will OA help me?
- I’m a teen. Will OA help me?
- How can I find a meeting?
- How can I get more information about a meeting before attending?
- How can I start a new meeting?
- How do we update our group’s meeting information?
- Does OA have online meetings? What about telephone meetings?
- What is a HOW group?
- What are the requirements for a HOW group?
- Are HOW groups sanctioned by Overeaters Anonymous?
- When can I give service?
- What does a meeting’s secretary do?
- What is a sponsor? How do I get one?
- When am I ready to sponsor?
Intergroups and National/Language Service Boards
- What is an intergroup?
- What is a Service Board?
- How can I find out the geographic area served by an intergroup, service board, or region?
- Where can we get information to help improve our group or our intergroup?
- When a meeting group does not have liability insurance, are the members required to sign a liability waiver? What about anonymity concerns?
- How does an OA group get liability insurance?
- How does our group or intergroup obtain tax-exempt status?
- Can our group or intergroup use the WSO’s tax-exempt number?
Board of Trustees
- How can I contact the Board of Trustees or a member of the board?
- How can I become a Board of Trustees member? What are the qualifications?
- How can I, my group or my intergroup contribute to OA?
- Where do I send my group’s donation?
- How much money should I give?
- Do you have a list of available literature?
- Can I order literature from the WSO?
- Can I order by phone or fax and send payment later?
- How long will it take to receive my literature order?
- Can my order be expedited?
- What is the return policy?
- Does the WSO sell AA literature?
- What is the difference between Board-approved literature and Conference-approved literature?
World Service Events
- What is WSBC? When is WSBC? Where is WSBC?
- What is the World Service Convention?
- When and where is the next World Service Convention?
- Who can attend the Conference?
- How can I get tapes of past World Service Conventions or World Service Business Conferences?
- What and when is Unity Day?
- What and when is Idea Day?
- What and when is Twelfth-Step-Within Day?
World Service Office (WSO)
- What is the World Service Office?
- How do I contact the WSO?
- When is WSO open?
- May I visit the WSO?
- Are the staff members at the WSO members of OA?
- Does the WSO have a toll-free number?
- Does the WSO set OA policy?
The OA Program
What is OA?
Information about OA.
How can I lose weight?
Information about OA.
How is OA different from commercial weight loss programs?
Information about OA.
What is the format of an OA meeting?
Learn What You Can Expect from OA.
Is OA affiliated with AA or any other anonymous fellowship or medical group interested in obesity?
No. OA is not affiliated with any other organization or group. Our policy is “cooperation but not affiliation.” Over the years, Alcoholics Anonymous has given us invaluable help and guidance, for which we are grateful. AA service offices at the local level have been and continue to be especially helpful to our OA groups and service persons.
If I have friends or family members who need OA, will you send them information?
To respect OA’s principles of anonymity and “attraction rather than promotion,” the WSO cannot send material to anyone other than the person making the request. You may, of course, share OA information and your personal experience in OA with those you care about. Perhaps with your encouragement, they will choose to find help through OA or through some other method.
How does OA define abstinence and recovery?
WSBC Policy 1988b, (Amended 2002, 2009 and 2011) “Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.
Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”
- Open group is a group which is open to anyone.
- Closed group is a group that is open to anyone with a desire to stop eating compulsively, or anyone who thinks they may have a problem with compulsive overeating.
I’m anorexic/bulimic. Will OA help me?
OA welcomes anyone who has the desire to stop eating compulsively. Many compulsive overeaters have had periods of bulimia and/or anorexia as a part of the disease of compulsive overeating. Find out more about Who belongs to OA? Purchase the Focus on Anorexia and Bulima Packet or OA Members Come in All Sizes.
I’m a teen. Will OA help me?
Some locations offer special meetings for young people. However, most young members of OA attend regular OA meetings. Find out more at the Young Persons in OA page.
How can I find a meeting?
Look in your local telephone directory under Overeaters Anonymous. Contact the World Service Office by phone, mail, fax, or email. Use OA’s website for meetings worldwide. Simply enter the name of the city or town in which you’d like to find a meeting.
How can I get more information about a meeting before attending?
Call the group’s contact person. He or she can tell you what to expect from the meeting, confirm the location, provide directions, and perhaps provide information about other meetings in the area.
How can I start a new meeting?
An OA group as defined in the Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. Bylaws is: two or more persons meeting together to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, guided by the Twelve Concepts of OA Service; all who have the desire to stop eating compulsively are welcome in the group; no member is required to practice any actions in order to remain a member or to have a voice (share at a meeting); as a group they have no affiliation other than OA; and It has affiliated as an Overeaters Anonymous group by registering with the World Service Office.
Purchase a New Group Starter Kit from the WSO. Once a group has started, it is very important that the meeting location, day and time remain consistent and updated and that at least one member is at the meeting place every week for the meeting.
How do we update our group’s meeting information?
Meeting information is tracked at the World Service Office. The database of meeting information is updated in the order in which changes are received by the WSO. All changes to meeting information must be submitted using a Group Registration/Change form.
Meeting updates can be made from the website or can be mailed to our group registration coordinator at the WSO. If you have questions about your group’s information, contact the WSO.
Does OA have online meetings? What about telephone meetings?
Yes. Go to our online/telephone meetings page for information and assistance in finding an online or telephone meeting.
What is a HOW group?
Some OA members and groups choose to work their programs through OA-HOW. It is considered a subgroup of OA by many and is known for its adherence to food plans and its disciplined sponsor/sponsee approach. Whereas the OA program offers only suggestions and allows for individual flexibility, the OA-HOW method usually provides a set structure to follow. Both programs practice the Twelve Steps for personal recovery, but the philosophy regarding abstinence is different.
What are the requirements for a HOW group?
The requirements for a HOW group are the same as for an OA group. Members meet to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. All who have a desire to stop eating compulsively are welcome in the group. No member is required to practice any actions in order to remain a member or to have a voice (share at a meeting). As a group, they have no affiliation other than OA. A group may be formed by two or more persons meeting together as set forth in Article IV, Section 1 of the OA Bylaws.
Are HOW groups sanctioned by Overeaters Anonymous?
Yes. HOW groups must follow the Twelve Traditions and adhere to the bylaws just as all OA groups. For more information, see Policy 1992a in the Business Conference Policy Manual in the World Service Business Conference Final Report.
When can I give service?
You can give service right away. Carrying the message to the compulsive eater who still suffers is the basic purpose of our Fellowship; therefore, it is the most fundamental form of service. Any form of service—no matter how small—which helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery.
Getting to meetings, putting out chairs, putting out literature, and talking to newcomers are all ways that any OA member can give service (adapted from Tools of Recovery).
Ask your group, intergroup/service board, or region about requirements for service above the group level.
What does a meeting’s secretary do?
In most groups the secretary is the principal service volunteer for a stated period of time. Many groups have found it best to select a secretary who is actively working the Twelve Steps, is abstaining, and has other group service experience. Here is an abbreviated list of the typical duties of a group’s secretary:
The secretary is responsible for making sure that the local intergroup/service board, the region, and the WSO know of any changes to the meeting’s location, day, time, contact, or intergroup/service board affiliation. The secretary coordinates group activities including opening and setting up the meeting place; conducting necessary elections or appointing other group service positions; and presiding over steering committee meetings. The secretary makes announcements at meetings and ensures that others, such as the intergroup rep, have time to report during the meeting. In most groups the secretary keeps all the group’s records, including a file of OA birthdays, weekly sign-in sheets, lists of members willing to sponsor, records of steering committee meetings, and mailings from the WSO (adapted from OA Handbook for Members, Groups and Service Bodies).
What is a sponsor? How do I get one?
Sponsors are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They are willing to share their recovery with other members of the Fellowship and are committed to abstinence.
Find a sponsor who has what you want, and ask that person how he or she is achieving it. A member may work with more than one sponsor and may change sponsors at will (adapted from Tools of Recovery).
When am I ready to sponsor?
Sponsoring can begin at any time. Simply sponsor up to the level of your experience, sharing as much recovery as you have. It may be helpful to discuss sponsoring with your own sponsor first, then begin sponsoring when you both feel it’s right. Ask your group to introduce you as a new sponsor, or identify yourself as one. We have found that sponsors are most effective when refraining from compulsive eating. Many of us believe clarity of mind comes with abstinence. Having a sponsor is the best way to learn to be a sponsor; we are learn by example. We also learn to sponsor by doing it (adapted from A Guide for Sponsors). The Sponsorship Kit contains helpful resources to get you started.
Intergroups and Service Boards
What is an intergroup (IG)?
When several groups form in an area, they soon realize that they can better perform together rather than separately. So the groups may form an intergroup that is directly responsible to the groups it serves. Intergroups spring from a need to provide service for a number of local groups and better information about OA in a community (adapted from OA Handbook for Members, Groups and Service Bodies).
Typical services provided by an intergroup are:
- Providing a central telephone number for information about OA and the local meetings
- Publishing regular newsletters or bulletins to keep groups informed about each other and upcoming OA events
- Coordinating speakers, public information and contact with the professional community
- Maintaining a supply of OA literature and OA and AA books
- Sending delegates to regional assemblies and the World Service Business Conference
What is a Service Board?
National Service Boards (NSBs) are service bodies that provide support for groups and intergroups outside the US and Canada, where the geographic scope within a region and the distance from the World Service Office is vast. NSBs run offices to deal with nationwide mail, meeting lists, newsletters, events, public information, and professional work. In non-English-speaking countries, the NSBs are responsible for producing OA literature in local languages.
In some cases, the NSB extends beyond the geographic borders of countries and serves groups and intergroups with a common language. In these cases, the NSB is usually called a language service board (LSB). Virtual Service Boards (VSBs) provide support to online and telephone meetings.
Service Boards may also send delegates to the World Service Business Conference.
Where can we get information to help improve our group or intergroup/service board?
You can contact your regional or virtual services trustee by emailing the WSO. We will forward your inquiry to the appropriate trustee. Please be certain to specify which region you are in or where you live.
When a meeting group does not have liability insurance, are the members required to sign a liability waiver? What about anonymity concerns?
If a meeting group declines liability insurance, a group conscience vote regarding the waiver is suggested. Although anonymity concerns are common, the meeting group makes the decision.
How does an OA group get liability insurance?
The group or intergroup should contact a local insurance agent and request information about nonprofit liability insurance. In many cases an intergroup can purchase coverage for all its affiliated groups, with all groups sharing the cost.
How does our group or intergroup obtain tax-exempt status?
The Internal Revenue Service is the proper source for official instructions on filing for tax-exempt status. IRS publication 557, “Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization,” and the instructions which accompany the application, FORM 1023, provide information and assistance in applying for and maintaining your tax-exempt status. Note the time restrictions for filing the application. Your state may require a separate application for tax-exempt status, also. Be sure to check with your state revenue service or treasury office for applicable forms and instructions. We suggest you consult an attorney or accountant who is competent in organizational nonprofit exempt status for further assistance.
Can our group or intergroup use the WSO’s tax-exempt number?
Unfortunately, the Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. tax ID number is specifically for the corporation (which includes the Board of Trustees, the World Service Office and the World Service Business Conference). If another entity were to use that ID number, it would jeopardize both OA and the other entity (the meeting group).
Board of Trustees
How can I contact the Board of Trustees or an individual member of the board?
Contact the BOT or an individual board member by email, fax (505-891-4320) or mail (WSO, Attn: Board of Trustees/Board Member Name, PO Box 44020, Rio Rancho, NM 87174-4020); your inquiry will be forwarded to the BOT or the appropriate board member.
How can I become a Board of Trustees member? What are the qualifications?
Trustees are elected at the annual World Service Business Conference (WSBC) for a period of three years and serve no more than eight consecutive years.
Qualifications for trustee (OA Bylaws, Subpart B, Article IX, Sections 3 and 4) :
- seven years in the Fellowship
- five years of service beyond the meeting level
- attendance as a delegate to at least two World Service Business Conferences
- five years of continuous recovery in Overeaters Anonymous as evidenced by five years of current continuous abstinence, current maintenance of a healthy body weight for at least two years, and emotional and spiritual growth as a result of incorporating into their lives the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions as a new way of living.
Trustee nominees must also have worked through all Twelve Steps; declared themselves as practicing the Twelve Steps to the best of their ability; declared themselves as committed to the Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous; and affirmed these additional qualifications on their trustee application forms.
You may download a trustee application from the Board of Trustees page.
How can I, my group or my service body contribute to OA?
Individuals, groups or OA service bodies may contribute to Overeaters Anonymous by sending their donation in US funds to the World Service Office.
Where do I send my group’s donation?
Mail donations to your intergroup and region to their offices. Individual or group donations to world service should be mailed to the World Service Office, PO Box 44020, Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87174-4020 USA. You may also contribute online.
How much money should I give?
Give what you can afford at every meeting you attend. Give as if your life depends on it! A member may contribute up to 5,000 USD per year to the general fund, up to 5,000 USD per year to any special fund. OA, Inc. will accept a bequest in any amount from the will of a deceased member. (Read the Seventh Tradition of OA pamphlet for more information)
What is Lifeline?
Lifeline is OA’s magazine. It is like a portable meeting, filled with new perspectives on issues you deal with daily. Featuring articles, experiences, opinions, letters, information and stories by OA members, it is an invaluable tool that will support you in working your program and maintaining your recovery. This colorful, illustrated magazine also includes answers to questions, and region and world service news.
Lifeline is available in two formats: the printed magazine mailed to you in a plain envelope or the electronic magazine (e-Lifeline) available only on the OA Web site.
How do I subscribe to Lifeline?
You can subscribe to the print magazine or the electronic magazine online. Or you can send your subscription to the World Service Office if you prefer to pay by check or money order.
How do I submit a story to Lifeline?
Click here for Lifeline Writers Guidelines.
Can I order literature from the WSO?
Yes. You can order by mail with a check or money order or by phone, fax, or online using MasterCard, Visa or Discover.
What is the return policy?
Please make any returns of goods within 90 days of your original order date. Include a copy of the invoice. Items returned must be in saleable condition. A credit will be issued to your account which will be valid for one year.
Does the WSO sell any AA literature?
Yes. You can purchase the soft cover version of Alcoholics Anonymous in English or Spanish by phone, fax or online using a credit card or by mailing a check to the WSO.
What is the difference between Board-approved literature and Conference-approved literature?
Conference-approved literature has received the Conference Seal of Approval by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting delegates at the World Service Business Conference. All original publications for use by the OA Fellowship as a whole must be Conference approved.
Board-approved literature are publications that have been approved by the Board of Trustees, and may be either one or both of the following:
- Literature that has originated from a Board or Conference Committee and is not intended for the Fellowship as a whole
- Literature that has been compiled from existing Conference-Approved Literature or Lifeline magazine
In either case the items are OA-approved literature as defined by the World Service Business Conference Policy 1982b and may be displayed and/or sold at OA meetings.
What material is copyrighted?
All OA Conference-approved and Board-approved literature is copyrighted by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. To assist members in carrying the message of recovery, OA groups and service bodies may reprint some items without having to submit a written request to the WSO. Go to Copyright Requests to learn more and to obtain copyright permission forms.
Can I use the OA logo?
Logo permission must be obtained in advance from the WSO for any reproduction or use of the Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., logo. The OA logo may only be used in connection with the official OA business of a registered group or service body. Anytime the OA logo is used, the material must include the name of the service body to distinguish the item as being from a service body rather than from Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. Go to Copyright Requests to learn more and to obtain logo permission forms.
World Service Events
What is WSBC? When is WSBC? Where is WSBC?
The World Service Business Conference (WSBC) is the annual business meeting of Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. WSBC serves as the collective conscience of the Fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous. Held annually in April or May, this week-long meeting is attended by delegates representing OA service bodies around the world. It is held to elect trustees, amend bylaws, adopt new business policies and provide information to delegates through presentations and workshops on issues that affect OA as a whole. Check the World Service Business Conference page for details.
What is the World Service Convention?
World Service Convention is a recovery event open to all OA members worldwide. This convention is held every five years to promote recovery, fun, and fellowship in Overeaters Anonymous. You can attend workshops, marathons and other OA-related events, and hear speakers from other countries. Come share your experience, strength, and hope with hundreds of OA members from around the world.
When and where is the next World Service Convention?
Check the World Service Convention page for details.
How can I get audio recordings of past World Service Conventions or World Service Business Conferences?
If you’re interested in past audio recordings, please contact the World Service Office at 1-505-891-2664.
What and when is Unity Day?
This day recognizes the strength of the Fellowship worldwide. On the last Saturday in February, at 11:30 a.m. pacific standard time, OA members pause to reaffirm the strength inherent in OA’s unity.
What and when is Idea Day?
International Day Experiencing Abstinence (IDEA), celebrated the third Saturday in November, encourages OA members worldwide to begin or reaffirm their abstinence from compulsive overeating.
What and when is Twelfth Step Within Day?
Celebrated on December 12 (12/12) each year to encourage OA service bodies, meetings and individual members to reach out to those within the Fellowship who are still suffering from compulsive eating behaviors.
World Service Office (WSO)
What is the World Service Office?
The World Service Office, located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico USA, works to provide quality support and services to the OA Fellowship. These services include: worldwide OA meeting directories; a print and online magazine and quarterly newsletter; a website; public information activities; World Service Conferences and Conventions; and more than 150 literature and recovery-related items.
How do I contact the World Service Office?
By mail: PO Box 44020, Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87174-4020 USA. By telephone: 505-891-2664. By fax: 505-891-4320. By email.
Does the WSO have a toll-free phone number?
The WSO does not have a toll-free phone number. However, most information is available on the website, and the staff is happy to answer your inquiry by email.
Does the WSO set OA policy?
The World Service Office does not make decisions on policy for the Fellowship. The staff serves the Fellowship and follows its direction as set by the annual World Service Business Conference and the Board of Trustees.