Many U.S. health experts are worried about the country's growing obesity rates, but Mary Atkinson says the trend can be stopped.

Atkinson directs food and nutrition services at Tucson Medical Center and often counsels concerned patients on nutrition and fitness issues.

To make lifestyle changes that maintain a proper weight and promote good health, she recommends starting with small steps.

For example, gradually progressing from short, easy jogs to longer ones can keep a new jogger from becoming injured or discouraged, she says.

When it comes to eating, Atkinson encourages taking the time to cook large amounts of healthy meals, splitting them into appropriate portions and freezing them. Having healthful food available can help a a health-conscious eater avoid buying fast food, she says.

The important thing is to get started and build on your success, she says.