In this study, we aimed to analyse the relationship between body composition and bioelectrical variables in children and adolescents. The sample was composed of 6801 individuals (4035 males; 2766 females) aged 8-20 years included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) years 1999-2004. Classic and specific bioelectrical impedance vector analysis (BIVA) were applied and compared with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for the evaluation of fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM), and bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) for the evaluation of intra-cellular water (ICW), extra-cellular water (ECW), and total body water (TBW). Fat-free mass index (FFMI) was calculated. Spearman’s correlation, regression, and depth-depth analyses were applied. The evaluation of body composition with BIVA agreed well with that of DXA or BIS, independently of sex, age, and ethnicity: classic BIVA was mostly sensitive to differences in TBW, ECW/ICW, whereas specific BIVA to differences in %FM, FFMI, and ECW/ICW. The depth-depth analysis confirmed the associations of classic BIVA (coeff. 0.500, p < 0.001), and specific BIVA (coeff. 0.512, p < 0.001), also considering the significant effect of age (p < 0.001). In classic BIVA the association was slightly stronger in females (by 0.03, p = 0.042) and among Blacks (0.06, p = 0.002), whereas in specific BIVA it was stronger by 0.06 (p < 0.001) in females and similar among ethnic groups. The combined use of the two BIVA approaches represents a valuable tool for complete evaluation of body composition in growth studies, for the prevention and monitoring of malnutrition, and the monitoring of the performance in young athletes.
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