- Background: Several studies from Europe have over time shown that children growing up in poverty will have long lasting effects on their physical and mental health, on medical service utilization, and criminal behavior. Poverty exists even in developed countries such as the United States and Israel (25% of children living in poverty), where it is a major public health problem of a magnitude that is markedly different than Scandinavian countries (3%). Methods: This paper presents data from the Israel National Insurance Institute research on poverty, with comparisons with several other countries. Results: The data showed the incidence of poverty in Israel at 18% of all families. The number of families living in poverty in 2000 was 305,400 with 1,088,100 persons and 481,100 children. In other words 25% of the children or every fourth child in Israel live in poverty. Conclusions: It is concluded that there is a need for further research into the effects of poverty on child development and adaptive behaviors, and to find ways to conduct policy relevant research. Pediatricians and child health care workers should also be trained in community advocacy work in order to work as a coalition in the community towards prevention of poverty and poverty related health problems.