I think it sends both the wrong message and the right message. I agree that it makes people think that they can lose loads of weight week after week. It's not made 100% clear (although you can figure it out if you want) that the contestants eat VERY low calories (I think they're all at 1200 a day) and work out for like, 8 hours or something--not realistic for the real world.
But the positive message that it sends is that every day people, not just Hollywood starlets, can lose weight and get in shape. I think that the show sends a positive message about fitness. Also, at the end of the season, you see them able to go home and lose weight, without all the fancy equiptment and trainers of the ranch, which is more realistic for regular people.
I think that it also sends an incorrect message about overweight people in general--all the contestants seem to allow themselves to be held back because of their weight, they let their weight get in the way of their lives. Their entire self confidence is wrapped up in their weight--I know this isn't an accurate picture of ALL overweight people, as I don't feel this way at all. Sure, some of my self confidence involves my appearance and therefore my weight, but most of it comes from other things, because I haven't let my weight hold me back in things I want to do. It's not how I define myself. This may be the case for some, but not for all.
No binge since 5/10/10
Mini-goal #1: 1st 10 lbs: 10/07/09
Mini-goal #2: 10% of body weight: 4/28/10 (Finally!
Mini-goal #3: 211 lbs (my all-time adult low): 1/26/11
Mini-goal #4: 20% of SW (202lbs):
Mini-goal #5: Onederland!: