Jordan Banjo has revealed that he tipped the scales at almost 23 stone (146kg) amid his dance troupe Diversity’s rise to success when he was a teenager.
Making the confession during a special Loose Men edition of ITV’s Loose Women on Thursday, the TV personality, 28, admitted that he felt like a ‘fraud’ as he and his fellow dancers vied for the top prize on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2009.
The Greatest Dancer star recalled: ‘When we first went on Britain’s Got Talent, I was 16 and at my heaviest, I went to just under 23 stone. I was only 16 at this point, 6ft5. I’ve always been quite a big dude.
Struggles: Jordan Banjo has revealed that he tipped the scales at 23 stone (146kg) amid his dance troupe Diversity’s rise to success when he was a teenager
‘Compare me to the other boys, all they’ve got to do is sneeze and they get an ab. I looked at a slice of chocolate cake and it felt like I gained a stone and that was always the way.
‘At first, it was difficult when we first started. You’re part of the biggest dance group in the country, you’re young, I’m 16, and to be blunt I felt like a bit of a fraud.
‘All my friends are dancing around, flipping around, concentrating on having the time of their lives and there was me at the back trying to figure out how to disguise myself and kind of get away with a routine.’
However, with the pressures of social media, and feeling that he needed to have a certain image, Jordan revealed that he soon took things to another extreme.
Past: The Diversity star, 28, recalled when he fluctuated between 12 and almost 23 stone from 2009 (pictured left in an old picture)
He went on: ‘You get the pressures of social media – for me I went too far the other way. I then was 6ft5 and ended up weighing 11 and a half stone. I literally went way too far the other way because of all the pressures I felt to be a certain way.’
And he admitted that he still feels pressure now, explaining: ‘I would say in the last year it’s been the worst it’s ever been. Between lockdown and not being as active…
‘You go on social media and there’s a bunch of people out and about making the best of their life of lockdown and “Oh I’m going to do this and that” and then there’s me at home with my kids like, pass me the Pringles please.’
He added: ‘Now everything is so accessible, you see everyone’s life as they put it out there. Everyone wants you to perceive their life as being perfect.
Differences: The KISS FM presenter was ordered to lose weight by doctors as they declared him morbidly obese at the tender age of 13 (pictured left in 2009, right in 2020)
‘Someone will upload a gym selfie, they’ve been in the gym for two hours, they’ve taken 50 pictures, they’ve got the right angle, they look the best they can look, they put that up there as if that’s normal.’
Back in January, Jordan revealed that his older brother Ashley Banjo, who rose to fame with him in Diversity, helped him through his weight struggles.
In an interview, the Diversity star recalled when his sibling, 32, ‘saved my life at both ends of the scale’, as he fluctuated between 12 and 22 stone from 2009.
The dancer shared: ‘I turned to Ash because I knew I was either going to have to do something about my weight or things were going to get way, way worse.’
Dance troupe: Jordan admitted that he felt like a ‘fraud’ as he and his fellow dancers vied for the top prize on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2009 (pictured)
The KISS FM presenter was ordered to lose weight by doctors as they declared him morbidly obese at the tender age of 13.
Just before he turned 18, the TV and radio star reached out for help from the choreographer after years of struggling to follow a healthy diet.
The TV star told The Mirror: ‘It’s no secret that I struggled with my weight. Ash was brilliant. He helped me rethink my diet and put together a workout routine. The weight came off pretty quickly.’
After losing nearly half of his body weight following his Britain’s Got Talent win in 2009, Jordan was still determined to shed more pounds, admitting he’d only eat a bowl of cereal and chicken breast each day.
‘He saved my life at both ends of the scale’: Back in January, Jordan revealed his older brother Ashley Banjo helped him through his weight struggles (pictured in 2016)
He recalled: ‘Ash had set me on a good path but he’s super busy, so he’d left me to get on with it on my own. I had to work hard to try and maintain it. But all I could think about was losing more weight, and it got out of control.’
The father-of-two, who currently weighs 17 stone, said his turning point came when he returned to the stage for a Christmas performance, but no one in the audience recognised him.
Jordan added: ‘It took a lot for me to ask for help that first time, but he had my back – and he had it again when I’d got out of control. Ash saved my life at both ends of the scale – literally.’
Elsewhere on Loose Men, Jordan – who shares two children with his fiancée Naomi Courts – spoke about the efforts he’s put into raising his son Cassius, three.
He said: ‘From me, raising boys and everything we just said, as a relatively new dad myself – my son is 3-years-old, Cassius – everything we just said there, about the responsibility… It’s all well and good changing nappies, giving bottles, this and that.
‘As his character’s coming out more, when he’s saying things, when his behaviour shifts, when he has a negative emotion, when he gets angry, when he’s upset, how he responds to anger, even with his little sister, whatever you do as a parent, literally shapes someone’s life.
‘Every night when I put him to bed I lay in bed with him for five minutes, I ask him about his day, I make sure he’s had a good day, if he’s had a bad day I make sure he tells me.
‘If I’ve been short with him or I’ve had a go at him, or lost my temper I make sure I apologise in that moment and when I put him to bed. I don’t feel like a lot of parents hold themselves accountable in those situations.’
Doting: ‘I turned to Ash because I knew I was either going to have to do something about my weight or things were going to get way, way worse’, the dancer shared
ITV’s Loose Women was rebranded to Loose Men, with Jordan joining anchor Richard Madeley and fellow panellists Martin Kemp and Robert Rinder.
Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, the all-male panel was the next phase of Loose Women’s Stand By Your Men mental health campaign which urges men to open up and seek help when needed.
The panel discussed a variety of topics ranging from body confidence to mental health, as well as whether flirting is cheating and things they think men need to discuss more.
Talking about whether he felt pressure about the way he looked as a pop star, Spandau Ballet musician Martin said: ‘Always. When I was 17, I was in the band, so I was always aware of how I looked.
Fluctuating: In addition to gaining weight, Jordan also grappled with losing a huge amount of his size as he fluctuated. Pictured in 2012
‘But I think nowadays we are so much more health conscious and body aware than we ever have been. I think it’s a generational thing as well.
‘If you’d said to my dad about looking after his body when he was busy making his lard sandwiches to go to work – literally lard taken out of the roast dinner tray – if you’d have said to him about body awareness he would have laughed.’
TV judge Robert Rinder said: ‘It’s all porkie pies, right? Exactly as you describe social media, Instagram being the very worst, has done more violence to all of our mental health, but especially young people who put out exactly as you describe, completely false images of this completely perfect life, all of it is complete and utter nonsense.
‘The way I describe it is halitosis of the human soul. And the consequence is there’s been more pressure than ever to live up to this false narrative of how people are supposed to look.
‘I got out of control’: After losing nearly half of his body weight, he was still determined to shed the pounds, admitting he’d only eat cereal and chicken breast each day (pictured in 2018)
‘Objectification of whatever gender is really bad and we do have to admit, there’ll be lots of women watching, it is always worse and it has been worse for years and probably will continue to be, for women…
‘But there’s something we need to talk about as well which is resilience and giving people who comment on your body image your absolutely aggressively undivided indifference. Bullying is always about the bully and I think we need to talk about that.
‘It seems to me that part of the conversation is about, sure, tackling this, but also about having self confidence to say “if you’re going to write something mean and nasty ultimately that’s about you.”‘
Speaking about moving into television and whether his body awareness changed Robert said: ‘Not so much my body awareness. One of the things about being in the law and being covered with a robe, I’m evaluated by my brain.
Letting loose: ITV’s Loose Women was rebranded to Loose Men, with Jordan joining anchor Richard Madeley and fellow panellists Martin Kemp and Robert Rinder
‘In fact, I wore the same suit for every interview for about three years and I encouraged Nadia Sawalha to do exactly the same thing on this show [Loose Women].
‘Day two of wearing the same outfit people were phoning in wondering whether she had taken leave of her senses. So things are a little bit different.
‘But I do fitness for my mental health and that’s why I took part in that. I really like having a conversation about that. I’ve got a one pack now after lockdown.’
Richard discussed his own experiences, as he said: ‘I’m 65 today! Even old men like me come under a lot of pressure to explain how we look.
‘For example, I was born blonde, Boris Johnson blonde when I was a little boy, so I’ve been told as blonde born people, as they go grey, particularly men, the sun, swimming, wet hair in the summer, will make you go a bit blonde again.
‘That’s happened to me. I have been accused again and again and again of dying my hair and putting streaks in my hair.
‘And I haven’t and I’ve had to put up with this for two or three years. Mind you sometimes you can actually walk into a trap of your own making.’
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV and ITV Hub. Catch up on Loose Men on ITV Hub.
Discussion: The panel discussed a variety of topics ranging from body confidence to mental health, as well as whether flirting is cheating and things they think men need to discuss more