Obesity is the world’s fastest-growing health risk. Curing it could be lucrative, as well as life-saving. That logic lies behind a renewed push by leading drug companies. But the industry’s experience is not encouraging. As with veteran dieters, success requires optimism to triumph over experience. Novo Nordisk thinks hope is edging ahead. Nearly a third of the Danish drug group’s sales growth in the first half of 2018 came from its obesity medicine Saxenda. The drug, which mimics the effects of an appetite-curbing hormone, lets people feel full before they have cleared their plate. The treatment, which needs to be injected daily, costs several thousand pounds a year. That might explain why, despite leading the market, half-year sales — 1.7-billion Danish kroner ($261m) — are relatively small. The overall weight-loss market — from surgery to shakes — is more than 300 times that size. The Danish company faces competition. In early October, shares in Eli Lilly rose — and Novo Nordisk’...

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