They are illnesses that are not often talked about, but have devastating impacts on those who suffer from them.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is an organisation that offers support and a way to recover from compulsive food behaviours.
Its Bega branch, which has been running for the last 25 years, is holding a public information afternoon for anyone who may have problems with either overeating or restricting their food intake.
Long-time member and public relations officer Belinda, who did not use her last name as the organisation is anonymous, said the branch uses a 12-step model the same as in Alcoholics Anonymous and was for people who suffer from bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa or binge eating.
“It is really hard to get out of any addiction,” she said.
“What we focus on in 12-steps programs is the idea it is not an individual’s fault, this is actually an illness.
“The steps are on finding an inner strength to help you recover from the addiction.”
According to the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders around four per cent of Australians experience an eating disorder, or close to one million people.
A 2011 report found individuals with eating disorders have significantly higher mortality rates than the general population, with the highest rates occurring in those with anorexia.
Belinda said the first step to recovery at the OA meetings was admitting you have a problem – if people did not, they did not hang around long.
She said OA meetings have no fees, although they did have a small donation to cover venue hire.
As the group is anonymous, it means whatever is mentioned in the meetings stays in the meetings and that allowed a large range of people of different ages, body types and lifestyles to come along.
The information session will be on January 15 at the Old Bega Hospital from 2pm.
Guest speakers from Sydney and local members will be speaking and providing support.
The group’s regular meetings are on every Thursday at 2.30pm at the Bega Uniting Church. For more info, ring Belinda on 0417 947 166.