Gary Barlow had a "double whammy" of self-hatred when his weight ballooned.

The Take That star turned to food and comfort ate to a staggering 232lbs during his years in the pop wilderness after his solo career flopped in 1998 and he admits he could find nothing to like about himself.

He said: "It's one thing to loathe yourself in the head. But then to look in the mirror and to loathe yourself physically . where do you go?

"At least hate yourself and look good. Or look s**t and feel great. But to have both, it's a double whammy."

While Gary, 40, now maintains a slim physique, he admits food will always be his "enemy".

He added in an interview with the New Edition of Esquire magazine: "Food has been my enemy all my life. I've always loved it and it's always made me feel guilty and I've always starved myself.

"I've never eaten a mouthful of food for probably 20 years and not thought, 'I shouldn't be eating this.' "

Gary - who has three children, Daniel, 11, Emily, nine, and two-year-old Daisy with wife Dawn - also admitted fame is like a "drug" to him and understands why stars like Sir Elton John never want to stop performing.

He said: "I recognise it In Me what I see in Elton and all those other people. We're chasing the buzz. It's a little drug.

"I think once you've tasted it, especially when you've tasted it a number of times, you never want to lose it.

"It'll annoy my wife for years, that, but there you go."