By LIZ THOMAS
Bigger: Gary Barlow looking thinner this year for X Factor (left) and at his heaviest at a 'Party in the Park' charity concert in 1999 in London's Hyde Park (right)
X Factor judge Gary Barlow has revealed that he is still traumatised by his battle with obesity and depression following the break-up of Take That.
Barlow has now brought his weight below 12st – from a peak of 16st 11lb – thanks to eating less and exercising more.
At his heaviest he had a body mass index of 34.7, classifying him as obese.
Slimline: Gary with Robbie Williams at judges' houses on the X Factor last weekend
Barlow said: ‘I felt horrible. I felt s***. For someone so big, I felt incredibly small.’
The 40-year-old enjoyed brief solo success after Take That split up in 1996, but was dropped by record label Sony BMG after his second album flopped.
He told Radio Times that his weight gain was ‘about food, obviously, because I was shoving it in my mouth, but it was more about a reaction to who I’d been’.
He added: ‘I’d decided, “OK, nobody wants me, but I don’t want to do it anyway, and to make sure I don’t do it again, this is how I’m going to look”.
‘I realised afterwards it was a form of depression.’
On song: Barlow with fellow Take That members (left to right) Jason Orange, Howard Donald, Robbie Williams and Mark Owen
He explained: 'The fat was a protective coating. As I got bigger, I found I didn't need a hat or sunglasses. I had my disguise wrapped around me. Then one day, in December 2001, Dawn said: "Babe, I think you should go and see the doctor."
Read the full interview with Gary Barlow in this week's Radio Times