I have gone back and forth on this. I used to think it sent the wrong message with the weight loss numbers, but people aren't stupid and they know that without all that hard work that weight doesn't come off so quickly. As for inspiring I think it depends on where you are, if you're ready to face certain things. I used to watch the contestants and think "if they can do it so can I" but wasn't really doing anything to prove it. For some reason this season I have been inspired to start trying. One thing that made an impression on me as well was watching Bob take on the weight of the contestant who weighs 430 pounds. To see how much of a struggle it is for a normal healthy person who is in good shape to carry around that much excess weight made me think of how much better I'll feel when I shed it.
If people want to watch the show to make fun of the fatties, which used to be my reason for swearing I'd never consider being on it, then they're the ones who have issues not the contestants. No matter where they start they've always lost the weight and most of them keep it off. That is something to admire no matter who you are because it's not something everyone can do. If you can't admire that then chances are it's because it's not something you could do. I'm just saying.
For now I'll keep watching and cheering them on.