Gary Barlow reveals he used being overweight to hide in plain sight

“The more weight I put on, the more invisible I was and this happened over a two-year period and it was fantastic,” says the singer, who says he became a recluse after Take That split

Gary Barlow (Getty, EH)

Gary Barlow has spoken out about his weight gain in the aftermath of Take That’s split and how it made him “unrecognisable”.

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The singer revealed that after Robbie Williams departed the band in 1996, his weight rose to more than 17 stone and at one point he didn’t leave his house for six months.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Barlow said he was living the dream until the band split. “The thing that was more alarming than reading things [in the press] was on the street, you would have people shouting, ‘Hey, how’s Robbie doing?’”

Barlow said the more successful Williams became, the lower he felt himself. “I would love to be the person who says you read this stuff and it doesn’t bother you. Every word bothers you, every word,” he said.

Because of the negative attention from the press and the public, Barlow revealed he stayed in his house without leaving for months at a time, with the longest period being six months.

“The one thing I discovered was that I had put weight on… and a few less people recognised me. The more weight I put on, the more invisible I was and this happened over a two-year period and it was fantastic,” he said.

“By the time I hit 17st 2lbs I was unrecognisable and in heaven because no one recognised me.”

Eventually Barlow managed to push the “stop button” on his weight gain as well as making a hugely successful career comeback.

He told the audience that he had written about his issues with weight in a book 15 years ago but was persuaded to take it out.

“A lot of the things I talk about, we’ve enjoyed and watched women talk about for a long time,” he said. “We’ve seen the way women have helped one other by talking about it and men haven’t but they are starting to, I feel that tide is turning and it is a good thing, it is a good thing.”

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Barlow’s second autobiography, A Better Me, has just been released, and in it he also writes movingly about his stillborn daughter Poppy.