Americans love their cars, their houses, and their food. Based on a survey by ING Direct, the financial services company, these are the last 3 things we would sacrifice to save money.

On the other hand, the most dispensable things for Americans include day care/nannies, cleaning services, education, and gifts. Women would be more likely to sacrifice health and fitness than men in the U.S.

The ING survey compares the U.S. with eight other nations including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Health and fitness appear more highly valued by people in France and Spain; vacations, small luxuries, cleaning services and fashion by Italians; and, pets, among Americans.

Americans also highly value modern gadgets and electronics, along with Italian and British peers.

Several other aspects of the ING survey relate to health. Americans are spending more time at home to save money, growing more fruits and vegetables and cooking more at home, too.

These results are based on over 1,000 interviews conducted in each of the nine countries in May-June 2009.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: ING’s survey adds to the growing evidence base that fiscal health impacts physical health. This point was made by health citizens themselves when surveyed by Edelman, the communications firm, in the Health Engagement Barometer launched in October 2008.

A huge emotional impact is also driven by a person’s ill fiscal health. ING found that, for people in a ‘steady relationship, 28% of Americans said their marriage or relationship had been adversely affected by the recession. Globally, this percent ranged from a low of 11% and 12% in Austria and Germany, respectively, to a high of 28% in the U.S.