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New support group comes to overeaters' rescue

Manama, March 8, 2014

A handful of people have banded together to form one of Bahrain's first support groups for people with eating disorders.

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step programme for those who have issues with food, including compulsive overeaters, anorexics and bulimics.

Founders told the reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, that anyone with a problematic relationship with food is welcome to the meetings, which take place every Saturday at 6pm at the American Mission Hospital in Manama.

"Our modern, relatively sedentary lifestyle in the Gulf has led to a high incidence of obesity and diabetes-related problems by international standards," said a group spokesman.

"It is associated with compulsive eating. These are life-threatening diseases that can lead to both physical and psychological distress, including joint problems, mood issues and guilt or shame associated with physique."

The Saudi, who did not wish to be named because he is recovering from an eating disorder, said the group guides members through a 12-step programme.

"The only requirement for memberships in OA is a desire to stop eating compulsively," said the 52-year-old Bahrain resident.

"It offers a programme of recovery from compulsive eating using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA.

"Worldwide meetings and other tools provide a fellowship of experience, strength and hope where members respect one another's anonymity.

"It is not just about weight loss, weight gain or maintenance, or obesity or diets. It addresses physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is not a religious organisation and does not promote any particular diet," he noted.

"Members differ in many ways, but we are united by our common disease and the solution we have found in the OA programme."

He said there were a handful of members made up of Bahrainis and Gulf nationals, but the number is expected to increase steadily.

"Like most other modern societies, Bahrain has many who suffer from eating disorders but, to the best of our knowledge, did not have an Overeaters Anonymous group until now," he added.

Health Ministry nutrition chief Dr Nadia Gharib told the GDN the members need to ensure they fully understand the 12 steps they are committed to.

"We have to be certain that everyone understands the steps involved," she said.

"There are a lot of issues that they're dealing with under this umbrella - overeating, undereating, binging.

Problems

"People need to figure out how to relate their problems to others, and that's fine, that's good. But they need to ensure it remains in that framework."

She said while sharing experiences is encouraged, members should not expect others' methods to work for them.

"It's important to understand and realise that what works for one person might not work for the other, even if they have the same problem," she said.

"I think that there should be a nutritionist present at the meeting in order to help them," she said.

"The meetings should not result in treatment plans that are not discussed with a dietician or nutritionist."

Estimates for OA put memberships at 54,000 people in over 6,500 groups in over 70 countries. There are OA groups in Oman, the UAE and Qatar, making Bahrain the fourth Gulf country to form one.-TradeArabia News Service




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